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U.S. Supreme Court

Mitsubishi v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, 473 U.S. 614 (1985)

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc.

No. 83-1569

Argued March 18, 1985

Decided July 2, 1985*

473 U.S. 614


Petitioner-cross-respondent (hereafter petitioner), a Japanese corporation that manufactures automobiles, is the product of a joint venture between Chrysler International, S.A. (CISA), a Swiss corporation, and another Japanese corporation, aimed at distributing through Chrysler dealers outside the continental United States automobiles manufactured by petitioner. Respondent-cross-petitioner (hereafter respondent), a Puerto Rico corporation, entered into distribution and sales agreements with CISA. The sales agreement (to which petitioner was also a party) contained a clause providing for arbitration by the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association of all disputes arising out of certain articles of the agreement or for the breach thereof. Thereafter, when attempts to work out disputes arising from a slackening of the sale of new automobiles failed, petitioner withheld shipment of automobiles to respondent, which disclaimed responsibility for them. Petitioner then brought an action in Federal District Court under the Federal Arbitration Act and the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, seeking an order to compel arbitration of the disputes in accordance with the arbitration clause. Respondent filed an answer and counterclaims, asserting, inter alia, causes of action under the Sherman Act and other statutes. The District Court ordered arbitration of most of the issues raised in the complaint and counterclaims, including the federal antitrust issues. Despite the doctrine of American Safety Equipment Corp. v. J. P. & Co., 391 F.2d 821 (CA2), uniformly followed by the Courts of Appeals, that rights conferred by the antitrust laws are inappropriate for enforcement by arbitration, the District Court, relying on Scherk v. Alberto-Culver Co., 417 U. S. 506, held that the international character of the undertaking in question required enforcement of the arbitration clause even as to the antitrust claims. The Court of Appeals reversed insofar as the District Court ordered submission of the antitrust claims to arbitration.


1. There is no merit to respondent's contention that, because it falls within the class for whose benefit the statutes specified in the counter-claims

Page 473 U. S. 615

were passed, but the arbitration clause at issue does not mention these statutes or statutes in general, the clause cannot be properly read to contemplate arbitration of these statutory claims. There is no warrant in the Arbitration Act for implying in every contract within its ken a presumption against arbitration of statutory claims. Nor is there any reason to depart from the federal policy favoring arbitration where a party bound by an arbitration agreement raises claims founded on statutory rights. Pp. 473 U. S. 624-628.

2. Respondent's antitrust claims are arbitrable pursuant to the Arbitration Act. Concerns of international comity, respect for the capacities of foreign and transnational tribunals, and sensitivity to the need of the international commercial system for predictability in the resolution of disputes, all require enforcement of the arbitration clause in question even assuming that a contrary result would be forthcoming in a domestic context. See Scherk v. Alberto-Culver Co., supra. The strong presumption in favor of freely negotiated contractual choice-of-forum provisions is reinforced here by the federal policy in favor of arbitral dispute resolution, a policy that applies with special force in the field of international commerce. The mere appearance of an antitrust dispute does not alone warrant invalidation of the selected forum on the undemonstrated assumption that the arbitration clause is tainted. So too, the potential complexity of antitrust matters does not suffice to ward off arbitration; nor does an arbitration panel pose too great a danger of innate hostility to the constraints on business conduct that antitrust law imposes. And the importance of the private damages remedy in enforcing the regime of antitrust laws does not compel the conclusion that such remedy may not be sought outside an American court. Pp. 473 U. S. 628-640.

723 F.2d 155, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and WHITE, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, and in which MARSHALL, J., joined except as to Part II, post, p. 473 U. S. 640. POWELL, J., took no part in the decision of the cases.

Page 473 U. S. 616

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