Ending a Mud Bowl: Defining Arbitration's Finality Through Functional Analysis

82 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2006

See all articles by Amy J. Schmitz

Amy J. Schmitz

Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; Cyberjustice Lab


The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and Uniform Arbitration Act (UAA), on the state level, prescribe a nearly identical procedural and remedial scheme for promoting independent, self-contained arbitration. To that end, both acts curtail courts' review of arbitration awards, by limiting the grounds for vacating awards to those aimed at ensuring only basic procedural fairness. Nonetheless, seemingly "pro-arbitration" impulses have driven some courts' eager application, or misapplication, of the FAA/UAA statutory scheme to enforce dispute resolution agreements that reject the acts' limited review prescriptions. This Article tackles this arguable abuse of the FAA/UAA scheme, by proposing a functional analysis for defining how "final" a procedure must be for it to qualify as arbitration within the acts' purview. The Article concludes that the FAA/UAA limited review prescriptions are integral to the acts' goals and functions, and therefore define the finality of arbitration governed by the acts. If parties reject these prescriptions and contract for substantive judicial review of their arbitration procedure, then they have not agreed to arbitrate under the FAA/UAA scheme and may not reap the acts' remedial and procedural benefits.

Keywords: ADR, arbitration, dispute resolution, contracts, equity, mediation, contracts to bargain, negotiation, Federal Arbitration Act, Uniform Arbitration Act

JEL Classification: K41, K12

Suggested Citation

Schmitz, Amy J., Ending a Mud Bowl: Defining Arbitration's Finality Through Functional Analysis. Georgia Law Review, Vol. 37, pp. 123-204, 2002, U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-41, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=943528

Amy J. Schmitz (Contact Author)

Ohio State University Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Cyberjustice Lab ( email )


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