Authors: David W. Rivkin and Frances L. Kellner**
Published: December 1990
Description: Since the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”) adopted the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration on June 21, 1985 (the “Model Law”), a number of commentators and practitioners have urged that the United States repeal the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”) for purposes of international arbitration and adopt the Model Law in its place. In support of their position, Model Law advocates contend that the FAA is “sketchy” and difficult to use, whereas the Model Law provides a comprehensive body of international arbitral law. Further, they argue that adopting the Model Law would arm the United States with a law on international arbitration that would be “immediately recognizable and familiar” to parties from other countries, thereby making the U.S. more attractive as a situs or international arbitration. Finally, they contend that adoption of the Model Law by the United States would be a step towards uniformity or harmonization of national arbitration laws to the benefit of the international arbitral regime and to the United States, a central country in that regime. However, adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law is not only unnecessary to maintain the United States’ leading position in international arbitration, but would be detrimental to the effectiveness of international arbitration in the United States.
*Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton, New York, N.Y.; member, New York Bar. The author is Co-Chair of the ABA Litigation Section’s International Litigation Committee, Chair of the International Commercial Arbitration Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association, a member of several committees of the American Arbitration Association and its National Panel of Commercial Arbitrators, and an Advisory Director of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration. He is also a member of the Committee on the U.S. in a Global Economy of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
**Associate, Debevois & Plimpton, New York, N.Y.; member, New York Bar. The author is Co-Chair of the International Arbitration Subcommittee of the ABA International Litigation Committee, Litigation Section.