Arbitration is the process whereby parties submit disputes to a third, neutral party who will issue a decision that is both final and binding upon the parties. The Supreme Court has recognized arbitration as a valuable form of dispute resolution, with its primary advantages being speed, affordability, and the lower degree of hostility created by a less adversarial environment. In contrast to litigation, the standards of review for arbitral awards are defined in the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and are extremely narrow. In somewhat of a collision-course with the terms of the FAA is the fact that some courts have interpreted the holding of Volt Information Sciences, Inc. v. Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University, wherein the Supreme Court held that parties agreements should be enforced according to their terms, as supportive of the conclusion that parties should be free to contract for non-statutory standards of review. With more and more parties submitting disputes to arbitration, the issue of whether parties can contractually expand the standard of review has become extremely unclear, with complex divisions even among individual circuits. This Note addresses the effects of allowing parties to contract for standards of review beyond those established in the FAA, and the Ninth Circuit's self-reversing decision in Kyocera prohibiting such agreements.



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