Legal Translation Services and the Need for Careful Drafting of International Arbitration Provisions

Legal Translation of Arbitration Clauses into Foreign Languages

We’ve blogged about the importance of professional legal translation and litigation interpreting services for drafting international arbitration documents. The 11th Circuit recently issued a decision highlighting the need for careful corporate drafting of international arbitration provisions. Jane Doe v. Princess Cruise Lines, Litd. (11th Cir. 2011) The case dealt with an employee of the cruise line who was allegedly drugged by other employees and physically injured while unconscious. When she reported the incident to officials, she was treated with indifference and the employer refused to provide proper medical treatment.

The issue before the court was whether and, if so, to what extent, her claims were arbitrable under a broad arbitration clause in her contract.

The contract made a specific reference to required arbitration for personal injury claims, along with stating:

“The Company and crew member agree that any and all disputes, claims, or controversies whatsoever (whether in contract, regulatory, tort or otherwise and whether pre-existing, present or future and including constitutional, statutory, common law, admiralty, intentional tort and equitable claims) relating to or in any way arising out of or connected with the Crew Agreement, these terms, or services performed for the Company.

Interestingly, the court stated that despite the clause’s breadth, the plaintiff’s claims did not have to be arbitrated. Specifically, the court held that the ‘relating to’, ‘arising out of’ and ‘connected to’ language “marks a boundary by indicating some direct relationship or direct connection.” Hence, some claims not even indirectly related to the work environment fell outside this provision.

From an international perspective, this decision is interesting in that it requires a close reading (and drafting) of contract clauses. When dealing in an international business setting involving foreign languages, this will require American professional foreign language translations.

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