Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc: International Arbitration and Antitrust Claims

Sopata, Lisa | January 1, 1986

Arbitration is an attractive alternative for parties entering into commercial transactions. Parties to international contracts often include arbitration clauses in an attempt to protect their rights and to eliminate uncertainties in the event of a dispute. A court may nevertheless treat a given dispute as nonarbitrable if the issue is highly charged with conflicting public policy concerns. The United States Supreme Court in the recent landmark decision, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth Inc., held that private antitrust claims are arbitrable in a transaction arising in international commerce. The court ruled in a five-to-three decision that if an international contract contains a broad arbitration agreement, policy favoring arbitration overrides the domestic public policy against arbitration of antitrust claims. The majority stated that an arbitration clause need not specifically mention a given statute in order to require the arbitration of claims arising under the statute. This Note will first discuss the background of antitrust claims in the international context, including the statuatory provisions and treaties involved in such disputes. Second, it will analyze the procedural history of the Mitsubishi case. The Note will then analyze the Supreme Court’s decision in light of the legislative intent underlying the statutes involved, previous judicial authority, and alternative public policy concerns. The Note concludes that the Supreme Court failed to properly evaluate the countervailing public interest in the nonarbitration of antitrust claims by holding the Mitsubishi-Soler agreement enforceable.