Monday, February 18, 2019

International arbitration, U.S. common law collide in skilled student note

I have been remiss not to mention earlier an incisive work on arbitration law by Chad Yates, '19. "Manifest Disregard in International Commercial Arbitration: Whether Manifest Disregard Holds, However Good, Bad, or Ugly" is available online from 13:2 UMass Law ReviewHere is the abstract.

Manifest disregard is a common law reason for not enforcing an arbitration award. This principle applies when the arbitrator knew and understood the law, but the arbitrator disregarded the applicable law. Presently, the United States Supreme Court has not made a definite decision on whether manifest disregard is still a valid reason for vacating the award (known as “vacatur”), and the Court is highly deferential to arbitrator decisions. Consequently, the lower courts are split on the issue. For international commercial arbitration awards, manifest disregard can only apply to a foreign award that is decided under United States law or in the United States. This Note will argue that manifest disregard should still apply to arbitration awards. However, arbitration contract clauses would be improved with the addition of language for appeals based upon manifest disregard to an arbitration appeals tribunal. The customary goal of arbitration is to provide a confidential, cost effective and expedited resolution of contract disputes. Therefore, an arbitration contract clause requiring that an appeals tribunal decide all manifest disregard questions would further these traditional arbitration goals.

Mr. Yates excelled in my 1L Torts class two years ago and also in Comparative Law (co-taught by the better regarded Dean Peltz-Steele).  I admit that my delay in reading this article is owed to my own shortcoming, as I suffer from commercial legis MEGO disorder.  I nevertheless recognize this article as well worth the, uh, investment, especially if commercial arbitration is your jam. Moreover, I am hopeful that Chad will get around to publishing some of the excellent research he's done on India in comparative law.  You can get a flavor of that work from his January entry on the UMass Law Review blog, "Comparative Law for India: The U.S. Digital Media Sales Company’s Destination for Business Process Outsourcing."  See also more on the blog.

A shout out of gratitude to Perry S. Granof, of Granof International Group, contributor of the chapter, "Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution in International Business Transactions," to the book, Resolving Insurance Claim Disputes Before Trial (ABA TIPS 2018).  The consummate colleague and an exceptional lawyer, Perry generously lectured my Comparative Law class via Zoom, on the subject of international arbitration, and fueled Chad's interest in the area.

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