California District Court Grants Motion to Compel, Referring Issue of Arbitrability to Hong Kong Arbitration Forum

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A district court in California granted a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. A shareholder’s agreement between the parties contained a provision requiring arbitration before the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), and also incorporated the HKIAC’s rules by reference. The plaintiff claimed the arbitration clause was inapplicable to the instant dispute. The defendants argued that arbitrability questions must be decided by the HKIAC. The district court agreed, finding the HKIAC rules clearly and unmistakably demonstrated the parties’ intent to delegate threshold arbitrability issues to the HKIAC. The district court also found the relevant shareholder’s agreement was enforceable against the plaintiff, even though he did not sign it, since his corporation signed the agreement as his alter-ego.

Michael Pak v. EoCell, Inc., et al., Case No. 20-cv-05791-VC (N.D. Cal. Oct. 28, 2020).

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