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Legal Memorandum: Requisites for Obtaining Arbitration in a Pending Law Suit

Issue: Under the laws of the Virgin Islands, what must a party do in order to obtain arbitration in a matter already the subject of a pending law suit?

Area of Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Matter already the subject of a pending law suit; Arbitration
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 24 V.I.C. § 74a(a)
Date: 03/01/2006

In 2002, the Virgin Islands Legislature added § 74a to Title 24 of the V.I. Code.  Section 74a provides:

§ 74a   Arbitration

(a)        Notwithstanding an employment contract that provides for the use of arbitration to resolve a controversy arising out of or relating to the employment relationship, arbitration may be used to settle such a dispute only if:

(1)        the employer or employee submits a written request after the dispute arises to the other party to use arbitration; and

 

(2)        the other party consents in writing not later than sixty (60) days after the receipt of the request to use arbitration.

(b)        An employer subject to this chapter may not require an employee to arbitrate a dispute as a condition of employment.

Id. 

The plain reading of subpart (a) requires a party wishing to initiate arbitration to submit a written request to the other party after the dispute arises.  If the other party refuses to consent, the claims are not subject to arbitration. 

As is true of the substantive portion of the statute, the procedural requirements imposed by 24 V.I.C. § 74a(a) are not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Association (FAA).  The FAA imposes no policy favoring arbitration under a particular set of procedural rules.  Sec. Ins. Co. v. TIG Ins. Co., 360 F.3d 322, 325 (2d Cir.) (quoting Volt Info. Sciences, Inc. v. Bd. of Trustees, 489 U.S. 468, 476 (1989)), cert. denied, 125 S. […]

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