Court's Authority to Decide Whether An Agreement to Arbitrate Exists

In Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, 539 U.S. 444, 156 L. Ed. 2d 414, 123 S. Ct. 2402 (2003), the Court decided that limited arbitration matters are to be decided by the court. These matters "include certain gateway matters, such as whether the parties have a valid arbitration agreement at all or whether a concededly binding arbitration clause applies to a certain type of controversy." Green Tree Financial Corp., 539 U.S. at 452, 156 L. Ed. 2d at 422, 123 S. Ct. at 2407. The Illinois Supreme Court has described the limited role of the trial court as follows: "When presented with a motion to stay litigation pending arbitration under section 3 of the FAA, the court's inquiry is limited to whether an agreement to arbitrate exists and whether it encompasses the issue in dispute. If the court finds that an agreement to arbitrate exists and the issue presented is within the scope of that agreement, a stay under section 3 of the FAA is mandatory." Jensen v. Quik International, 213 Ill. 2d 119, 123, 124, 213 Ill. 2d 119, 820 N.E.2d 462, 465, 289 Ill. Dec. 686 (2004).