Federal Court Emphasizes Powers Granted To Arbitrator

In Shirley v. FMC Technologies, Inc., a Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas recommended the confirmation of an arbitrator’s award over objections that the parties’ agreement did not authorize him to address the dispute between the parties. As the court explained, the arbitration provision undeniably empowered the arbitrator to determine his jurisdiction, “including any objections with respect to the existence, scope or validity of the arbitration agreement.” Consequently, according to the court, “[i]t is not enough to show that the arbitrator committed an error-or even a serious error. Because the parties bargained for the arbitrator’s construction of their agreement, an arbitral decision even arguably construing or applying the contract must stand, regardless of a court’s view of its (de)merits.”

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