Awards: Virginia Supreme Court Finds Court Deviated from a Confirmed Arbitration (Web)

In a case involving the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause and the enforcement of a sister-state judgment confirming an arbitration award, the Virginia Supreme Court held that the terms of an award must be followed without deviation, even if they may be incorrect.

Reversing a trial court’s recalculation of a real estate agent’s commissions, in Calcote v. Fraser Forbes, 2005 WL 2897557 (Virginia, Nov. 4, 2005)(available at http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1050312.pdf), the Court held:
 
While Fraser Forbes’ explanation may reflect the proper interpretation of the Contract between the parties, the parties’ past practices, and even the intent of the Arbitrator, it does not reflect the terms prescribed in the Award.

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. . . Nothing in the Award suggests the Contract between the parties should be used to calculate the commissions due under Paragraph 15(b) [of the Contract]. Rather, the terms of the Award as written can and must be applied to determine the amount of commissions due Calcote.

In a proceeding to enforce the judgment of a District of Columbia court in confirming an arbitration award, the Virginia trial court held the judgment was satisfied when broker Fraser Forbes paid commissions calculated in accordance with the commission agreement’s provisions, ignoring the award’s different direction on how the commissions should be calculated.

Consequently, the Court found that the trial court had erred, because the amount paid was not consistent with the award provisions--that is, a trial court cannot ignore or deviate from the arbitration award in its enforcement proceeding.

--Zoltan Elek CPR Intern