TIME LIMITS FOR CONFIRMATION OF ARBITRAL AWARDS IN UNITED STATES COURTS - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 55, No. 3
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
“The confirmation of an arbitration award,” says Noah Rubins, “is a summary proceeding that merely makes what is already a final arbitration award a judgment of the court.” This may seem like a straightforward concept, but the process itself can be fraught with complications when it comes to the question of time limits for the confirmation of international and domestic arbitral awards under the FAA. Rubins explores the conflicting views on this topic.
The value of an arbitration award, domestic or international, frequently depends upon the prevailing party’s ability to obtain confirmation of the award in court. Only by obtaining a court decree does the prevailing party procure the imprimatur that puts the power of the state behind the otherwise purely contractual arbitral decree. Any party that has won in arbitration and may in the future require the intervention of the state to ensure enforcement of the award, therefore, should pay careful attention to any time limits that have an impact on when a motion to confirm may be made. While untimeliness would seem to be the most avoidable ground for dismissal of a motion to confirm, recent decisions in United States courts have complicated the question of limitation periods for confirmation motions. This article attempts to make sense of conflicting authority on this issue, regarding the confirmation of domestic and international arbitral awards under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
A. Federal Arbitration Act
The confirmation of a domestic arbitral award that involves “commerce” is normally governed by the FAA, 9 U.S.C. section 1 et seq. Commerce is defined as:
Commerce among the several states or with foreign nations, or in any territory of the United States or in the District of Columbia, or between any such territory and another, or between any such territory and any state or foreign nation, or between the District of Columbia and any state or territory or foreign nation.
In practice, where the transaction in question necessitates the crossing of state lines by people or goods, the commerce requirement of the FAA is satisfied.1
The provisions of the state arbitration statute of the jurisdiction where a motion to confirm is brought can also impact the confirmation matrix. An arbitration award rendered in New York in relation to a transaction or contract involving interstate commerce, for example, could be enforced under the FAA or New York’s CPLR, or both. However, federal court jurisdiction for such an action is not a foregone conclusion. The FAA by itself does not confer subject matter jurisdiction, and so the moving party must demonstrate that the federal court has either diversity or federal question jurisdiction.2