Current Challenges to Consumer Arbitration in the United States: Much Ado About Nothing For International Arbitration?

The Arbitration Review of the Americas
Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions involving consumer arbitration and related legislation proposed in the U.S. Senate appear to have led some to question the continued acceptance of international arbitration in the United States. While such concerns are understandable, they are unfounded. The recent developments involve the specific context of consumer arbitration that implicate unique considerations and are limited to the domestic sphere. Outside of this narrow context, arbitration - and particularly international arbitration - continues to thrive in the United States. In the words of one appellate court, "[one] of the dark chapters in [U.S.] legal history concerns the validity, interpretation and enforceability of arbitration agreements… [;] to the courts and to the judges they were anathema."1 The United States Arbitration Act (now known as the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA)) in 1925 moved the United States away from these "dark chapters" by rendering arbitration agreements valid, irrevocable and enforceable, and ever since, including most recently, arbitration has become entrenched in the jurisprudence of the United States as an acceptable - and often preferable - mechanism for dispute resolution.