Republic Western Insurance Company (“Republic”) reinsured certain workers’ compensation policies issued by Reliance Insurance Company. In October 2001, Reliance was placed into liquidation under the supervision of the Liquidator. After Republic failed to pay certain claims arising under its reinsurance treaties with Reliance, the Liquidator demanded arbitration.

At the outset of the arbitration proceedings, the parties and the panel entered into an agreement providing that documents and information exchanged during the course of the arbitration would be kept confidential. After the arbitration concluded, Republic moved to file under seal certain documents related to an arbitration (including the award) in connection with its petition to intervene to assert a right to setoff. The Liquidator joined in Republic’s request to seal such documents.

Relying upon the factors set forth in Century Indemnity Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, 592 F. Supp. 2d 825 (E.D. pa. 2009), the court granted the parties’ joint request to seal. The court found that (a) a “significant business privacy interest” existed that would affect Republic if the award was disclosed; (b) sealing the award served a “legitimate purpose,” given that the parties entered into a confidentiality agreement that conforms to “the practice in the insurance industry to keep arbitration proceedings, including final awards, confidential”; (c) “public health and safety issues” were not implicated; (d) enforcing the confidentiality agreement promoted the voluntary execution of private arbitration agreements, which “is a sound public policy objective,” and (5) neither party was a public entity or acting as such. The court noted that all of these factors applied in favor of granting the petition to seal, and outweighed the presumption of public access generally afforded to documents filed with the court.

A copy of the court’s opinion and order, captioned Joel S. Ario v. Reliance Ins. Co., No. 269 M.D. 2001 (Aug. 7, 2009), can be found here.