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In re Arbitration Between Great Circle Lines

June 3, 1982

IN THE MATTER OF THE ARBITRATION BETWEEN GREAT CIRCLE LINES, LTD., PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
MATHESON & CO., LTD., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Constance Baker Motley, Judge, which directed the parties to proceed to arbitration upon a finding of a binding charter party in an action commenced pursuant to 9 U.S.C. §§ 1 and 4 and 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1). Affirmed.

Before:

MESKILL, CARDAMONE and WINTER, Circuit Judges.

CARDAMONE, Circuit Judge:

The petitioner-appellee, Great Circle Lines, Ltd. (Great Circle), sought arbitration in New York against respondent-appellant Matheson & Co., Ltd. (Matheson). When Matheson failed to appoint an arbitrator, petitioner commenced the subject action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1) and 9 U.S.C. § 1. Matheson appeals from a decision following a bench trial before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Constance Baker Motley, Judge, which held that negotiations between the parties regarding a time charter resulted in a binding contract and ordered respondent to proceed to arbitration under the provisions of 9 U.S.C. § 4.

The issue before us is whether, under maritime law, there existed a meeting of the minds between Matheson and Great Circle which satisfactorily served as the basis for a contract or "charter party." The district court found upon the facts before it that there was such a meeting of the minds. We agree.

I.

The object of the charter party was the M/V CLU-DEN, owned by the London-based Matheson, which Great Circle of New York sought to charter in October 1979 to transport bagged palletized clay to Japan. From the moment of the initial inquiry by Great Circle on Tuesday, October 23rd, there were only five days until Saturday, October 27th, the date on which Matheson had said its vessel would be ready for her next assignment. Involved in negotiations during this brief time span were nine individuals and business entities. The case is set forth as an aid to understanding the negotiations that ensued.

(1) Great Circle -- appellee-charterer, a company engaged in the transportation of dry cargoes;

(2) Matheson -- a British corporation and appellant-owner of the M/V CLUDEN;

(3) James G. Evans -- and in-house broker for Great Circle;

(4) Simpson, Spence & Young (Simpson, Spence) -- an independent ship brokerage and chartering partnership with offices in London and New York;

(5) Harold Haugeto -- an employee of Simpson, Spence in New York;

(6) David Stoop -- an employee of Simpson, ...


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