The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) applied to the contract between corporations from different states and the contract properly provided that gateway issues of arbitrability are to be decided by the arbitrator, not the court:
Where “a contract containing an arbitration provision ‘affects’ interstate commerce, disputes arising thereunder are subject to the FAA” … . The surety agency agreement here between corporations from different states gave rise to a finding of interstate commerce and was subject to the FAA … . Although “a New York court, applying the Federal Arbitration Act, limits its inquiry to whether there is a valid agreement to arbitrate the particular dispute” and all other questions are for the arbitrator … , the parties can agree to arbitrate gateway issues of arbitrability … .
Applying principles of New York state contract law, based on the choice of law provision governing the surety agency agreement … , and reading the contractual clauses together in context … , the provision that “[i]f a dispute or disagreement arises in connection with this Agreement, including a dispute or disagreement as to its formation or validity, such dispute or disagreement shall be submitted to arbitration,” refers any disputes over the validity or formation of the arbitration provision in question to arbitration. Accordingly, the matter here should proceed to arbitration. Matter of Bergassi Group LLC v Allied World Ins. Co., 2021 NY Slip Op 02265, First Dept 4-13-21