What laws govern arbitration in the U.S.?
In United States law, the Federal Arbitration Act is a statute that provides for judicial facilitation of private dispute resolution through arbitration. It applies in both state courts and federal courts, as was held in Southland Corp. v. Keating. [ It applies where the transaction contemplated by the parties "involves" interstate commerce and is predicated on an exercise of the Commerce Clause
powers granted to Congress in the U.S. Constitution.
The Federal Arbitration Act (found at 9 U.S.C. Section 1 et seq.), enacted in 1925, provides for contractually-based compulsory and binding arbitration, resulting in an arbitration award entered by an arbitrator or arbitration panel as opposed to a judgment entered by a court of law. In an arbitration the parties give up the right to an appeal on substantive grounds to a court.
The Federal Arbitration Act requires that where the parties have agreed to arbitrate, they must do so in lieu of going to court, provided that the proceeding is fundamentally fair—that is, equivalent in fairness to the public courts.
Once an award is entered by an arbitrator or arbitration panel, it must be "confirmed" in a court of law. Once confirmed, the award is then reduced to an enforceable judgment, which may be enforced by the winning party in court, like any other judgment. Under the Federal Arbitration Act awards must be confirmed within one year; while any objection to an award must be challenged by the losing party within three months. An arbitration agreement may be entered "prospectively"—that is, in advance of any actual dispute; or may be entered into by disputing parties once a dispute has arisen.
The Supreme Court ruled in Hall Street Associates, L. L. C. v. Mattel, Inc. that the grounds for judicial review specified in the FAA may not be expanded, even if the parties to the arbitration agreement agree to allow expanded review of the decision.
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