Central to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, June 10, 1958, 21 U.S.T. 2517 (“New York Convention”), and related federal law is the principle insulating foreign arbitral awards from second-guessing by courts. But this appeal involves an even more fundamental question— whether we are presented with a foreign arbitral award at all. In the mine run of cases, the answer is uncontroversial: when it looks, swims, and quacks like an arbitral award, it typically is. Yet, in this unusual appeal, we have an arbitral award in name only. There was no dispute to arbitrate, as the parties had fully settled their claims before approaching an arbitrator; the purported arbitration consisted of an impromptu meeting in a building lobby; and the “proceedings” disregarded the terms of three arbitration agreements between the parties and the issuing forum’s arbitral rules. We conclude that the resulting order is not an arbitral award entitled to enforcement under the Convention.
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