In a dispute between First Mutual, a ceding company, and its reinsurer, Infrassure, over which of two competing arbitration clauses in a reinsurance contract governed, the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court decision in favor of the reinsurer and found the arbitration provision contained in the body of the operative agreement controlling over a second provision located in an endorsement.

First Mutual, the insurance arm of New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, sought to resolve its claims against Infrassure arising from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in a London arbitration. The endorsement relied upon by First Mutual contained the second arbitration clause, which was titled “LONDON ARBITRATION AND GOVERNING LAW (UK AND BERMUDA INSURERS ONLY).” Infrassure argued the endorsement was inapplicable because it was not a UK or Bermuda insurer. Another provision in the agreement, the so-called ‘Titles Clause,’ provided that titles in the agreement existed for convenience and were not deemed to limit or affect the provisions they titled. First Mutual argued that the endorsement’s title limiting the provision to UK and Bermuda Insurers could not limit the substance of that provision.

The Second Circuit ruled that the reinsurance agreement was unambiguous in this respect, and that the arbitration clause contained in its body controlled, because the second clause was contained in a section expressly limiting its effect to UK and Bermuda insurers. Furthermore, the court noted that First Mutual’s construction of the Titles Clause would render several critical clauses within the reinsurance agreement meaningless because the titles provided critical context regarding what the language therein governed.

Infrassure, Ltd. v. First Mut. Transp. Assurance Co., No. 16-306 (2nd Cir. Nov. 16, 2016).