The Fourth Circuit issued an opinion “preserving the United States’ ability to speak with one voice” in regulating foreign arbitrations. ESAB Group argued that a South Carolina statute “reverse preempts” federal law pursuant to the McCarran-Ferguson Act which is directed at protecting state insurance regulation by implied preemption by federal domestic commerce legislation. In particular, the Court of Appeals considered whether McCarran-Ferguson applied such that state law can reverse preempt federal law to invalidate a foreign arbitration agreement mandating dispute resolution before Swedish tribunals. The court concluded that the federal government articulated a uniform policy in favor of enforcing agreements to arbitrate internationally (through a treaty and its enacting regulations) even when a contrary result would be forthcoming in a domestic context. Thus, insurance disputes were not exempted from the treaty, which controlled. In addition, the Court of Appeals held that the district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over Zurich Insurance, and that the court was within its rights to remand nonarbitrable claims to state court. ESAB Group, Inc. v. Zurich Insurance PLC, No. 11-1243 (4th Cir. July 9, 2012).
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Fourth Circuit: state statute does not reverse preempt federal law
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