How Recent Court Developments Could Affect Arbitration’s Future: From Hall Street to Stolt-Nielson to Anti-Arbitration Legislative Proposals

October 2009Articles American Arbitration Association Dispute Resolution Journal

The Supreme Court reinforced the longstanding policy in favor of arbitration in Hall Street Associates v Mattel by narrowly restricting the grounds to vacate an award under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The Supreme Court recently agreed to review Stolt-Nielson v AnimalFeeds International Corp, a 2nd Circuit decision interpreting Hall Street. This puts the Supreme Court in a position to clarify any remaining ambiguities regarding the grounds available to vacate or modify an arbitration award. To address the lack of clarity in Hall Street, author Joshua Horn writes that the Court should make clear in its forthcoming decision that Hall Street's holding is not limited to cases involving contracts in which the parties have expanded the grounds for judicial review: it is applicable to all kinds of cases. In addition, the Court should plainly state that its intention in Hall Street was to do away with the manifest disregard of the law doctrine.

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