New Developments in International Commercial Arbitration: A Comparative Survey of New State Statutes and the UNCITRAL Model Law* – Vol. 1 No. 1

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AuthorXavier E. Romeu-Matta**

Published: March 1990

Categories of Disputes
Commercial Disputes
Enforcement of Arbitral Awards

Description: In 1984, the Supreme Court held in Southland v. Keating that section two of the Federal Arbitration Act preempted any state law that limited the enforceability of arbitration agreements. While the Act does require adequate judicial enforcement of arbitration agreements in state courts, the majority in Southland found that states could provide their own enforcement provisions as well as procedures for vacating or modifying arbitral awards.
Though the question of the extent to which states are preempted from enacting laws covering the area of international commercial arbitration remains unanswered, this uncertainty has not deterred states from enacting new legislation. Since the adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law the appeal of a jurisdiction favoring arbitration has encouraged the birth and proliferation of state legislation aimed at making states more attractive centers for the arbitration of international commercial disputes.

The desire to attract international commercial arbitration, coupled with a change in the courts’ traditional enmity towards enforcement of arbitral awards, has resulted in the adoption by a number of states of new statutes favoring the resolution of international commercial disputes by recourse to arbitration. In a matter of three years, California and Texas enacted slightly modified versions of the Model Law, while Connecticut recently copied its provisions verbatim. Florida, Georgia, and Hawaii have copied the law with more variation. In this new “race to the bottom,” states strive to provide the optimum legal advantages to those seeking favorable sites for arbitration by maximizing private autonomy over arbitration proceedings.

The aim of this note is to compare the new state statutes with similar provisions in the Model Law. While this survey does not undertake an exhaustive comparison of every section, six topics are examined, each representing a key section of the new arbitration statutes.

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**J.D. Candidate, Columbia University School of Law.