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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Errors of law made in the course of arbitration


Errors of law made in the course of arbitration
Goldman v Architectural Iron Co., CA2, 306 F.3d 1214

From time to time, an arbitration award is challenged on the ground that the arbitrator applied the law incorrectly or did not properly consider the applicable law in making the award. Typically, the courts do not vacate an arbitration award merely because a party demonstrates the award is based on an "error of law."

Rather, as the Circuit Court held in DiRussa v Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 121 F.3d 818, an arbitration award may be vacated only if it exhibits a "manifest disregard of the law." What constitutes "manifest disregard of the law?"

In deciding the Goldman case, the Second Circuit said that "[g]iven the deference afforded arbitration decisions, this standard requires more than a mistake of law or a clear error in fact finding.” According to the Second Circuit:

Manifest disregard [of the law] can be established only where a governing legal principle is "well defined, explicit, and clearly applicable to the case," and where the arbitrator ignored it after it was brought to the arbitrator's attention in a way that assures that the arbitrator knew its controlling nature.

The Circuit Court cited New York Telephone Company v Communications Workers of America Local 1100, 256 F.3d 89, as authority for its ruling

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