According to section 9 of the Federal Arbitration Act, a court must confirm an arbitration procedure when a time-limited request is made unless there is reason to lead or change the price. But a court has no opportunity to confirm an arbitration unless the prize is considered a "definitive" award. The law in virtually all circuits requires that the price is final and that the panel has completed its determination of each issue in relation to the questions posed to it for assessment.
In a recent occasion, an arbitration award gave a definitive prize to the affirmative claims that save a determination of counterclaims for Phase II, but the court declined to confirm.
Standard Security Life Insurance Co., NY v. FCE Benefit Administrators, Inc. No. 19 CV 64, 2019 US Dist. LEXIS 40231 (ND on March 13, 2019), the court was asked to confirm an arbitration proceedings against a benefit manager under an administrative service agreement with an arbitration clause. The arbitration panel bifurcated the hearing between the confirmatory requirements for breach of contract and the benefits of the administrator's counterclaim (as amended) against the insurance company. Phase I hearing took place and proposals for awards were submitted. Both sides submitted a proposal for awarding the title "Partial Final Award." The Partial Final Prize Issued – Phase I noted that a full hearing was held at Phase I and was found for the insurance company against the Beneficiary and denied any other relief claims. Nonetheless, the debate on Phase II, on the counterclaims, was later held.
The insurance company requested to confirm the Partial Final Award and the benefits the administrator claimed that the confirmation was premature. At the decision that the acknowledgment was premature, the court noted that a jurisdiction question as to whether an award can be confirmed or questioned can be raised. Here, even if the panel used by the word "final" in the title of the prize, it also used the term "partial". Thus, the Court found the price incomplete because it left unresolved significant parts of the parties' dispute. the benefits of the administrator's counterclaims. The arbitrators, who held the court, were not finished the case when they made the Phase I prize, so the panel's mission was not yet complete.
Since this is a jurisdiction issue, the court ruled that the procedure was not mature for judgment and dismissal without affecting the lack of jurisdiction. The court stated that the parties can apply for resumption of the case if they wish, once the arbitral tribunal has concluded.
Interim and partial awards have been established where the subject of these issues was fully assessed and there was nothing left for the panel to address on these issues. Here, the court considered otherwise because the counterclaims could affect the confirmatory price in the event of a breach of contract claims.