The Story of Arbitration Law - WAMR 2003 Vol. 14, No. 6
Originially from: World Arbitration and Mediation Review (WAMR)
The Story of Arbitration Law
Thomas E. Carbonneau
Editor-in Chief, WAMR
The Elsie de Renzo and Samuel P. Orlando Distinguished Professor of Law
Penn State=s Dickinson School of Law
This article focuses upon the emergence, growth, and development of arbitration in
the U.S. legal system C what I have described in the title as AThe Story of Arbitration Law.@
I will recount the tale in both its international and domestic aspects because they
constantly interface despite their differences. I will also endeavor to assess the meaning of
arbitration for the law and the practice of law. My principal point is both simple and straightforward:
If arbitration is to maintain its current status and continue to develop in the U.S.
legal system, the deregulatory regime that presently applies is likely to become insufficient.
It needs to be supplemented by a process that educates and confers basic credentials
upon the participants in the process.
A program of educational certification would provide a modest but necessary level of
supervision and thereby help to maintain the integrity of the process. The educational
program should be directed at existing and prospective arbitrators and arbitration attorneys.
It should also include a component of civic instruction for the general public. United
States citizens should be informed about arbitration and develop a knowledge base about it
that is at least equivalent to their appreciation of the legal system. United States law
schools should take the lead in instituting and implementing this educational program.
The article also touches upon other central themes. It discusses the distinction
between arbitration and mediation with a view to establishing which process provides
society with the more essential values. It also addresses the political underpinnings of the
contemporary judicial doctrine on arbitration. Finally, recommendations are made for
modifying the Federal Arbitration Act to have it mirror more accurately the content of
A Multi-Faceted Narrative
There are many different chapters to the story of arbitration. First, it is tied to the
movement toward the privatization of social services which advocates for the elimination of
the Abig government@ approach to the resolution of social problems. Arbitration, therefore,