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Comité Français de l'Arbitrage




Arbitration law implicates a delicate equilibrium between respect for the bargain to arbitrate and protection of basic procedural fairness. The role of law thus remains intimately linked to the rule of law, in the sense of an impartial tribunal, the right to be heard, and respect for the arbitrator's mission. The legitimacy of the process depends on how arbitrators balance the often competing goals of due process and efficiency, and whether the authorities that review awards can monitor procedural integrity without infringing an arbitrator's prerogatives on a dispute's substantive merits. Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions on class arbitration serve as prisms through which to refract several themes in arbitration law. In Stolt-Nielsen the Court vacated an award in an international maritime dispute, overturning the tribunal's contract interpretation permitting class proceedings. By contrast, AT&T Mobility implicated a waiver of class arbitration in a consumer case, where the Court reversed a lower court decision that had invalidated the waiver. The soundness of both decisions remains open to question.


Adapted from Le caractère définitif de la sentence, Comité français de l’arbitrage, lecture delivered at Cour d’appel de Paris, 11 May 2012.

Adapted as La jurisprudencia estadounidense en materia de arbitraje colectivo, 5 Revista del Circulo Peruano de Arbitraje 9 (2012/2013), with assistance of Orlando Cabrera

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