Back when we began posting in 2009 we published a “Nuts & Bolts” series post about final arbitration awards, which you can read here. Interestingly, enough, that post, according to Google Analytics statistics, is one of the (if not the) most popular post we’ve ever published.
That may seem a bit strange, but it’s really not. Whether or not an arbitration award is a final arbitration award bears on a number of important issues, including whether the award can be confirmed, vacated, modified or corrected, and whether it is a decision that the arbitrators have the authority to revisit. And whether or not an arbitration award can be confirmed, vacated, modified or corrected before the conclusion of an ongoing arbitration proceeding has obvious time-bar consequences in light of the short limitation periods for confirming, vacating, modifying and correcting awards: to avoid forfeiture, it may be necessary to commence post-award Federal Arbitration Act enforcement proceedings before the arbitration proceeding has concluded. (See Loree Reins. & Arb. L. Forum posts here & here.)
Given the recent launch of the Federal Arbitration Act Litigation Procedure Blog, and the need to start posting what we hope will be interesting and useful material, we decided to kick-off with the finality topic. Earlier today we published the first segment of the series Federal Arbitration Act Finality: Is this Arbitration Decision a Final Award, An Interim Final Award, a Partial Award, a Partial Final Award or. . . What??, which you can read here.
That post outlines the topic and describes a hypothetical arbitration that gives rise to five types of awards and rulings, four of which are issued prior to the award that concludes the arbitration. Future posts will discuss whether or not each type of award is, or may in some circumstances be, a final arbitration award for purposes of Chapter 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act.
Another thing we’ll discuss will be the affect, if any, of Stolt-Nielsen, S.A. v. AnimalFeeds Int’l Corp., 559 U.S. 662 (2010) on the final award issue. Of all the many issues discussed in the Stolt-Nielsen case the one we hear relatively little commentary about is the Supreme Court’s rejection of the dissent’s argument that the class-arbitration consent award was not ripe for judicial review. See 559 U.S. at 667 n.2. As part of the Federal Arbitration Act Litigation Procedure Blog final-award series, we’ll consider that aspect of the Supreme Court’s ruling and its relevance to the question whether a partial award can be a partial final award if the parties consent.
And unless we somehow feel compelled to publish yet another post this year, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!
Philip J. Loree Jr.