Citing the treaty’s honorable engagement clause, a federal district court denied a group of reinsurers’ motion to vacate an arbitration award in which the arbitrators had fashioned a remedy requiring prompt payment of all disputed and undisputed claims. Certain London market reinsurers had entered into a reinsurance treaty with Century Indemnity Company that indemnified Century for certain liabilities arising out of asbestos litigation. The agreement did not contain a “Reports and Remittances” clause dictating when claims should be paid, but provided that the “liability of the Reinsurers shall follow that of the Company in every case.” The treaty also included an “honorable engagement” clause, directing the arbitrators to interpret the agreement to effect its general purpose.
Facing significant losses due to a flood of asbestos litigation, the reinsurers imposed a program in which Century would have to meet documentation requirements before claims were paid. When payments became delayed, Century initiated arbitration. The arbitrators issued an interim order requiring the reinsurers to promptly pay 100% of all undisputed claims and 75% of any disputed claims, finding that arrangement would effectuate the general purpose of the parties’ agreement. After several years of paying claims pursuant to this arrangement, the reinsurers moved to vacate the award when the arbitrators, who had retained jurisdiction over the matter, made the award final. Citing the “honorable engagement” clause, the court denied the motion to vacate and confirmed the award, holding that the arbitrators had the power to fashion the remedy even though it included obligations not explicitly bargained for by the parties. Harper Insurance Ltd. v. Century Indemnity Co., Case No. 10 Civ. 7866 (USDC S.D.N.Y. July 28, 2011).