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Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law




Enacted almost a century ago, as a simple procedural device to enforce arbitration in federal courts, the Federal Arbitration Act has now been pressed into service as a body of substantive law that binds state courts as well, requiring that arbitration agreements be enforced on the same footing as other contracts. Several different varieties of arbitration have been squeezed into the tent of an antiquated (although some might say venerable) arbitration statute, which proves ill-suited as an all-terrain vehicle. The laissez-faire court scrutiny appropriate to an international proceeding, between sophisticated business managers with access to competent counsel, may be quite misplaced in a consumer case. Moreover, basic arbitration notions are hidden in a maze of inconsistent cases that are anything but user friendly. Perhaps the time has come to consider amending the FAA to provide greater clarity, at least for international arbitration conducted in the United States.

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