The Revised Uniform Arbitration Act: An Overview - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 56, No. 2
The author is the dean of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, where he is the Earl F. Nelson Professor of Law. He served as the reporter to the Drafting Committee to Revise the Uniform Arbitration Act. Dean Heinsz is on the American Arbitration Association’s National Academy of Arbitrators and serves on the AAA’s panel of labor arbitrators.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
In 1955, when the Uniform Arbitration Act was promulgated, there was no Internet or e-mail or even a personal computer. By the year 2000, however, things were different. The last four decades have brought about a technological revolution and a global marketplace, among other things, which in turn have caused profound changes in all aspects of our lives. Arbitration was not immune to such changes—in fact it underwent a significant growth and evolution during this period.
In August 2000, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws adopted the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (RUAA) to modernize, revise, and clarify arbitration law. The following article by Timothy Heinsz presents an overview of the changes embodied in the RUAA. These changes range from an update of the very concept of a “written” arbitration agreement or award (to include those that are made and transmitted electronically) to the preservation of the arbitrator’s broad latitude in conducting an arbitration proceeding. The result, according to Heinsz, is a statute that promotes an efficient, modern, and fair arbitration system.
On Aug. 3, 2000, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (Uniform Law Commissioners) unanimously passed major revisions to the Uniform Arbitration Act (UAA). These revisions1 are the first substantive changes in 45 years to the UAA, which in some form is the basis of arbitration law in 49 jurisdictions. The federal counterpart to the UAA, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA),2 has not been amended in any substantial fashion for nearly 76 years.
Since Congress’s passage of the 1925 FAA and the Uniform Law Commissioners’ 1955 approval of the UAA, the number and complexity of arbitration cases have grown dramatically, an evolution spurred by favorable case-law development in the United States Supreme Court and appellate courts of the 50 states.
Thus, the time was ripe for the Uniform Law Commissioners to reconsider the UAA. In 1995, a drafting committee was appointed to revise the UAA. The committee received input from many interested observers, including the American Arbitration Association; the National Academy of Arbitrators; American Bar Association sections and committees, including the ADR Section, the Torts and Insurance Practice Section, and the Senior Lawyers’ Division; JAMS; CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution; and representatives of groups that utilize arbitration in such sectors as securities, construction, labor-management relations, and consumer.
The result was a statute that received broad support from these arbitration organizations and groups. In August of 2000 the Uniform Law Commissioners by a unanimous vote of its state members passed the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (RUAA).