This article analyzes the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Hall Street Associates v. Mattel, Inc., 128 S.Ct. 1396 (2008), in which the Court said that arbitration parties may not contract for substantive judicial review of arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act. The article contends that Hall Street Associates was rightly decided as a matter of dispute resolution process characteristics and values theory because it preserves arbitration’s central virtue of finality. It further argues that the Court’s insistence on the exclusivity of the FAA’s statutory grounds for vacatur should spell the end of the so-called “non-statutory” grounds for vacatur that have proliferated in the federal and state courts since the adoption of the FAA - including manifest disregard of the law, but perhaps not including the public policy exception. Finally, the article explores the question, raised by the Hall Street Court, of whether arbitration agreements calling for heightened judicial review may be upheld on grounds other than the FAA, such as state common or statutory law, or the inherent authority of the courts.
Richard C. Reuben, Personal Autonomy and Vacatur After Hall Street, 113 Penn St. L. Rev. 1103 (2009)