Brian T. Burns


judicial review, arbitration, federal courts


When the U.S. Supreme Court decided Hall Street Associates, L.L.C. v. Mattel, Inc. in March 2008, the Court held that under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), parties to an arbitration agreement may not contractually expand the grounds for judicial review of an arbitration award beyond the grounds enumerated in the FAA. In dicta, however, the Court expressly left open the possibility that parties nonetheless may obtain expanded review by relying on state arbitration law, rather than the FAA. This Note examines the availability of contractually expanded review under state law and addresses the question of whether, in light of Hall Street’s holding and despite its dicta, the FAA preempts state laws that otherwise would permit expanded review of arbitration awards. This Note looks at the history and development of the FAA and examines its preemptive effect on state laws. It then analyzes the arguments for and against the proposition that the FAA preempts state laws that permit expanded review. Finally, this Note argues that the FAA should preempt state laws that permit expanded review, unless the parties have expressly agreed that state arbitration law will apply to the exclusion of the FAA.

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