Roquette Freres, S.A. and Solazyme, Inc. entered into a Joint Venture Operating Agreement (the “JVOA”), which was established for the purpose of “the research and development, manufacture, distribution, sales, marketing and support” of certain products. The JVOA contained an arbitration provision that required disputes arising out of or connected with the agreement to be resolved under the “Arbitration Rules of the Center for Public Resources in New York”. The JVOA further provided that the arbitration be conducted “according to the laws of the State of Delaware” and that the agreement was “governed and construed in accordance with” Delaware law.
After the arbitration panel ruled in Solazyme’s favor, Roquette moved to vacate the award under Delaware law. Solazyme counterclaimed for confirmation of the award, arguing that the standard set forth in the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) governed Roquette’s challenge. As a threshold matter, the court found that because the JVOA did not specifically reference the Delaware Arbitration Act, and Roquette did not file its action in the Delaware Court of Chancery (as contemplated by the statute), the FAA controlled. Applying the standard set forth by the FAA, the court confirmed the panel’s award and denied Roquette’s motion to vacate because: (1) the panel’s interpretation of the time period in which to render an award, which Roquette argued had not been strictly adhered to, was a procedural issue that required broad deference under the statute and was rationally derived from the JVOA and CPR rules; (2) the panel’s consideration of extrinsic evidence was necessary to resolve the issues in dispute, and thus permissible; (3) alleged “public policy” considerations did not provide the court with a basis to vacate the panel’s ruling as a matter of law; and (4) the relief crafted by the panel, though broad in scope, was based upon the language of the JVOA, and thus within the panel’s authority. Roquette Freres, S.A. v. Solazyme, Inc., No. 1:14-cv-01442 (USDC D.Del. Dec. 21, 2015).