Speedy Resolution of Fraudulent Inducement Claims Through Arbitration

In Prima Paint Corp. v. Flood & Conklin Manufacturing Co., 388 U.S. 395, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1270, 87 S. Ct. 1801 (1967), the Supreme Court resolved the issue of "whether a claim of fraud in the inducement of the entire contract is to be resolved by the federal court, or whether the matter is to be referred to the arbitrators." Id. at 402. Having acknowledged that various courts have differed in their approach to resolving this question, the Court agreed with the approach of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that the arbitration clause contained in a contract may be severable from the contract itself, and that "where no claim is made that fraud was directed to the arbitration clause itself, a broad arbitration clause will be held to encompass arbitration of the claim that the contract itself was induced by fraud." Id. at 402. In so holding, the Court looked to the express language of the United States Arbitration Act (now known as the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA)), which required a federal court to order arbitration to proceed if it determined that the making of the arbitration agreement itself or failure to comply with the arbitration agreement was not in issue. See Prima Paint, 388 U.S. at 402. The Court reasoned that this requirement reflected the intent of Congress to provide a speedy remedy for parties who elected to resolve disputes via arbitration. Id. at 404.