A court may vacate an arbitration award if the award violates a party’s statutory rights or clearly defined public policy.  Here, the arbitration award assessed damages against plaintiff for breaching the arbitration agreement by filing its complaint in court rather than proceeding directly to arbitration.  This decision holds that the award thus violated plaintiff’s statutory right to sue.  Under the California Arbitration Act, a party has a right to sue in court and, if the defendant moves to compel arbitration, have the court decide whether arbitration is required.  Thus, filing suit in court and opposing a motion to compel arbitration do not constitute breaches of an arbitration agreement but rather are the exercise of statutory rights.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 3 (Edmon, P.J.); September 26, 2017; 2017 WL 4250188