Arbitration in the United States


The common law and statute law of the United States as to arbitration bear a general resemblance to the law of England.

Voluntary submissions

All controversies of a civil nature, and any question of personal injury on which a suit for damages will lie, although it may also be indictable, may be referred to arbitration; but crimes, and perhaps actions on penal statutes by common informers may not. The submission may be effected sometimes by parol, sometimes by written instrument, sometimes by deed or deed poll. Capacity to refer depends on the general law of contractual capacity. The law of England as to the capacity to act as an arbitrator and as to objections to an arbitrator on the ground of interest has been closely followed by the American courts.

The same observation applies as to the requisites of an award, the mode of its enforcement and the grounds on which it will be set aside. The arbitrator has a lien on the award for his fees; and—a point of difference from the English law—he may sue for them without an express promise to pay (cf. Goodall v. Cooley, 1854, 29 New Hamp. 48). At common law, a submission is generally revocable at any time before award; and it is also, in the absence of stipulation to the contrary, revoked by the death of one of the parties. Provision has been made in Pennsylvania for compulsory arbitration by an act of the 16th of June 1836 (see Pepper and Lewis, Pennsylvania Digest, tit. “arbitration”).

References by rule of court

The rules of court also of many of the states of the United States provide for reference through the intervention of the court at any stage in the progress of a litigation. Such submissions are usually declared irrevocable by the rules providing for them.

Statutory arbitrations

In addition to voluntary submissions and references by rules of court there are in America, as in the United Kingdom, various statutes which provide for arbitration in particular cases. Most of these statutes are founded on the 9 and 10 Will. III., c. 15, and 3 and 4 Will. IV. c. 42, s. 49, “by which it is allowed to refer a matter in dispute (not then in court) to arbitrators, and agree that the submission be made a rule of court. This agreement, being proved on the oath of one of the witnesses thereto, is enforced as if it had been made at first a rule of court” (Bouvier, Law Dict. s.v. “Arbitration”).

Ample provision is made in America for the arbitration of labour disputes.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)


Arbitration Awards

There are at least eight kinds of arbitration awards. For detailed information about arbitration awards, click here.

Arbitration and Mediation Rules

The American Arbitration Association (AAA) publishes rules for Commercial, Laborand Patent arbitration, and many others. The current versions are posted free on the AAA’s Rules & Procedures page. For detailed information about arbitration awards, click here.

For arbitration relating to letters of credit, see “Letters of Credit”.

Arbitration in relation to Invention and Patent Law

A method of ADR whereby a mutually agreed to third party resolves a dispute. Normally both sides agree to be bound by the decision in contrast to mediation.

Treaties and Conventions

For detailed information about UNCITRAL materials, the Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration, the New York Convention (the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards), the Washington Convention (the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States) and other treaties concerning international arbitration, click here. For investment treaty arbitration and international law, see here.

Arbitration Definition in the context of the Federal Court System

A form of alternative dispute resolution in which an arbitrator (a neutral decision maker) issues a judgment on the legal issues involved in a case after listening to presentations by each party. Arbitration can be binding or nonbinding, depending on the agreement among the parties before the proceeding.

Arbitration in the Context of International Arbitration

Analysis of the International Arbitration, see here. For an analysis of the International Arbitration agreement, see here.

Overview of International Arbitration in International Civil Litigation

Analysis of the Overview of International Arbitration in civil litigation, see here.

Concept of Arbitration in Labor Law

In this context, a definition of Arbitration is offered here: A method of settling a labor-management dispute by having an impartial third party decide the issue. The decision of the third party (arbitrator) is usually binding.


Finding the law: Arbitration in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to arbitration, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines arbitration topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.


In Legislation

Arbitration in the U.S. Code: Title 9

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating arbitration are compiled in the United States Code under Title 9. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Arbitration (including arbitration) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Arbitration of the US Code, including arbitration) by chapter and subchapter.


Further Reading

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution and the Courts: An Introduction (introduction), Alfini, James J., 69: 252-253, 314 (Feb.-Mar. ’86, AJS Judicature)
  • Arbitration vs. Mediation – Explaining the Differences, Cooley, John W., 69: 263-269 (Feb.-Mar. ’86, AJS Judicature)
  • The Case Against Mandatory Court-Annexed ADR Programs, Eisele, G. Thomas, 75: 34-40 (Jun.-Jul. ’91, AJS Judicature)
  • A closer look at mandatory arbitration for consumers (editorial), Editorial, AJS, 91: 220-221,260 (Mar-Apr ’08, AJS Judicature)
  • Could Settlement Masters Help Reduce the Cost of Litigation and the Workload of Federal Courts? (query), Cooley, John W., 68: 59-60, 88-89 (Aug.-Sep. ’84, AJS Judicature)
  • Court-Annexed Compulsory Arbitration Is Providing Litigants With A Speedier and Less Expensive Alternative to the Traditional Courtroom Trial, Broderick, Raymond J., 75: 41-44 (Jun.-Jul. ’91, AJS Judicature)
  • Court-Annexed Compulsory Arbitration: It Works, Broderick, Raymond J., 72: 217-225 (Dec.-Jan. ’89, AJS Judicature)
  • Do arbitrators know something that judges don’t? Ruminations on arbitral and judicial case management, McArthur, John Burritt, 94: 107-118 (Nov-Dec ’10, AJS Judicature)
  • Mandatory arbitration for customers but not for peers: A study of arbitration clauses in consumer and non-consumer contracts, Eisenberg, Theodore, Miller, Geoffery P., and Sherwin, Emily, 92: 118-123 (3, AJS Judicature)
  • Mr. Cooley Responds (letter), Cooley, John W., 68: 261, 304 (Feb.-Mar. ’85, AJS Judicature)
  • The privatization of civil justice (viewpoint), Murray, Peter, 91: 272-275, 315-316 (May-Jun ’08, AJS Judicature)
  • Resolving Libel Cases Out of Court: How Attorneys View the Libel Dispute Resolution Program, Wissler, Roselle, Cranberg, Gilbert, Soloski, John, Murchison, Brian, and Bezanson, Randall P., 75: 329-333 (Apr.-May ’92, AJS Judicature)
  • State Court-Annexed Arbitration: What Do Attorneys Think?, Boersema, Craig, Hanson, Roger A., and Keilitz, Susan, 75: 28-33 (Jun.-Jul. ’91, AJS Judicature)
  • Study shows consumers fare better in arbitration (brief), Richert, David, 88: 232-233 (Mar.-Apr. ’05, AJS Judicature)
  • Training Institutional Masters (letter), Hay, Herbert Darrell, 68: 260-261 (Feb.-Mar. ’85, AJS Judicature)
  • Unsettling Issues About Settling Civil Litigation: Examining “Doomsday Machines,” “Quick Looks” and Other Modest Proposals, Bedlin, Howard and Nejelski, Paul, 68: 9-29 (Jun.-Jul. ’84, AJS Judicature)
  • What the growing use of pre-dispute binding arbitration means for the judiciary (viewpoint), Williams, Jackson, 85: 266-267 (May-June ’02, AJS Judicature)
  • What We Know and Don’t Know About Court-Administered Arbitration, Hensler, Deborah R., 69: 270-278 (Feb.-Mar. ’86, AJS Judicature)
  • Resources

    See Also

    • Choice of Law Rule
    • Judicial Branch Jurisdiction
    • Legislative Jurisdiction
    • Supreme Court Jurisdiction
    • Judicial Jurisdiction Definition
    • Arbitrators
    • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
    • Foreign Laws
    • International Chamber of Commerce
    • International Law
    • International Trade
    • Letters of Credit
    • Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
    • Treaties
    • United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

    Arbitration in the International Business Landscape

    Definition of Arbitration in the context of U.S. international business and public trade policy: Dispute resolution technique in which both parties agree to submit their cases to a private individual or body for resolution.