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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ninth Circuit Refuses to Enforce Agreement Narrowing Grounds for Vacating Arbitration Award

"In the Hall Street decision in 2008, SCOTUS held that parties could not contractually enlarge Section 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act by agreeing that a court could vacate the arbitration award for reasons not found in that section.  This week, the Ninth Circuit held that parties also cannot contractually restrict Section 10 by providing for 'binding, non-appealable arbitration,'” explains Liz Kramer in one of her characteristically good analyses.  "This decision is important in that it protects consumers and other parties without negotiating power from arbitration agreements that write out even the minimal appeal bases in Section 10."

The Ninth Circuit opinion in In re Wal-Mart Wage and Hour Employment Practices Litig., __ F.3d __, 2013 WL 6605350 (9th Cir. Dec. 17, 2013) is here.  CPR's commentary by Bette Shifman is here.

I wonder if parties can get around this ruling to some extent (and in effect narrow some of the grounds for vacatur) by agreeing to arbitrate pursuant to the law of a state with arbitration law that has narrower grounds for vacatur than FAA section 10.  See the California supreme court's Cable Connections case and the Texas supreme court's Nafta Traders case.

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