Over the nearly two decades that I have maintained this blog, I have written about a fair number of court decisions involving statutory dissolution. The recent Delaware Court of Chancery decision styled: In re Neworld Energy Holdings LLC, C.A. No. 2023-0282-MTZ (Del. Ch. August 24, 2023), granted a motion to dismiss based on an arbitration clause in an LLC Agreement that the court found to require arbitration of statutory dissolution claims.
Seminal Delaware Opinion on Arbitrablity
Relying on the seminal Delaware Supreme Court decision in James & Jackson, LLC v. Willie Gary, LLC, 906 A.2d 76, 79 (Del. 2006) (highlighted on these pages here and which this author argued before the Delaware Supreme Court), the court addressed those situations where an issue of substantive arbitrability should be determined by the court or an arbitrator. In this decision, the court explained that the arbitration provision, which incorporated the American Arbitration Association Rules, evidenced a “clear and unmistakable intent to submit arbitrability issues to an arbitrator.” The court determined that the agreement involved in this case provided an exception for seeking equitable relief–but that did not apply to a request for statutory dissolution.
Additional Case Law Support
The court also found support for its reasoning in two other Delaware cases that applied the Willie Gary decision: Blackmon v. O3 Insight, Inc., 2021 WL 868559 (Del. Ch. Mar. 9, 2021, and McLaughlin v. McCann, 942 A.2d 616, 622-35 (Del. Ch. 2008). The court also referred to the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., 139 S.Ct. 524, 529 (2019)(highlighted on these pages here and here), regarding the position that a court possesses no power to decide an arbitrability issue when there is clear and unmistakable evidence that the parties intended to delegate issues of substantive arbitrability to an arbitrator.
The court also noted in closing, in support of its decision. another Chancery opinion that concluded:
“There is nothing inherent in the claim for judicial dissolution that could not be fully and fairly litigated in the context of an arbitration.” (citing Johnson v. Foulk Road Med. Ctr. P’ship, 2001 WL 1563693, at *1-2 (Del. Ch. Nov. 21, 2001)).