Author: Andreas Austmann*
Published: October 1990
Description: The last decade has witnessed a growing discussion over the topic of multi-party proceeding in domestic and international commercial arbitration. How shall we deal with situations in which more than two parties are involved in a dispute to be resolved by an arbitral tribunal? These situations arise frequently since, nowadays, even a mildly sophisticated commercial transaction usually involves more than two parties. An allegedly delayed delivery of a truck, for example, may result in two sets of proceedings: the freight line may wish to recover from the truck dealer who, in turn, may seek relief from the manufacturer.
An obvious concern in this situation is that the disputes be adjudicated consistently. A court can address this concern by consolidating the two proceedings to ensure that the freight line recovers from the dealer and that the manufacturer, assuming it caused delay in delivery, reimburses-the dealer. No such mechanisms are readily available, however, when the parties evade the jurisdiction of the courts by submitting their disputes to arbitration. The difficulties that might then arise are illustrated by a decision of the English High Court in an admiralty case, The Kostas K.
*Attorney-at-Law, Duesseldorf, Germany, J.D. University of Muenster 1983, S.J.D. University of Muenster 1988, LL.M. Harvard Law School 1990. The author owes special thanks to Professor Arthur T. von Mehren, Professor Otto Sandrock, and Thomas Noecker for valuable comments on the manuscript.