Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Supreme Court Limits Grounds for Reviewing Arbitration Awards Under FAA

On March 25, 2008, in a 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Sections 10 and 11 of the Federal Arbitration Act provide the exclusive grounds for vacating or modifying an arbitration award.

Contractual arbitration agreements providing for judicial review broader than the grounds in the FAA are not unenforceable under the FAA, the Court held. Rather, when the FAA is invoked, a court "must" confirm an arbitration award unless it finds that one of the grounds set out in Sections 10 and 11 for vacating or modifying awards is applicable.

Hall Street Associates, L.L.C. v. Mattel, Inc., No. 06-989, 552 U.S. ___, 2008 WL 762537 (March 25, 2008).

Because the particular arbitration at issue was part of a U.S. District Court trial, the Supreme Court remanded the case for determination of whether the arbitration agreement, as drafted, should be enforceable not under the FAA but under the U.S. District Court's inherent authority to manage its own cases. The Supreme Court also declined to extend its holding outside the realm of the FAA, noting that its ruling did not apply to enforcement under state statutes or the common law.

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