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Penn State Law professor proposes revised American arbitration statute in new book

A new book by Thomas E. Carbonneau, Samuel P. Orlando Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Penn State Institute of Arbitration Law and Practice, argues for a revamped federal statute on arbitration based on nearly 50 years of U.S. Supreme Court opinions in this area. Toward a New Federal Law on Arbitration will be published in late September by Oxford University Press. 

The law Carbonneau envisages tracks the decisional law of the U.S. Supreme Court in 50 cases involving arbitration. In the three sections of the book, he sets out the history of arbitration; articulates the content of the recommended statute; and provides a commentary of its provisions. 

The current law, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), was enacted in 1925. According to Carbonneau, its rules have become antiquated and have been adjusted to new circumstances by the Court in an episodic and case-by-case basis. Carbonneau believes that a modern legislative framework is critical to the United States' commercial standing in the global marketplace and would facilitate the practice of law and judicial decision-making in the area of arbitration. The Court's support of arbitration has made it crucial to the wide diversity of interests implicated by civil litigation, he argues.

Carbonneau believes that the Court's decisional law has generated "a veritable revolution" in legal rights in the United States.  It represents a "reworking [of] the Bill of Rights" and acts to "guarantee the core ... of U.S. citizenship." Both law students and legal practitioners need to made fully aware of the implications of these judicial opinions and a new statute is a perfect vehicle for doing so, according to Carbonneau.

“The Court's rulings indicate that it believes that arbitration is the best means of providing American citizens with effective civil adjudicatory services,” Carbonneau says. “Both international and domestic business transactions are characteristically subject to arbitration through standard contract provisions. Arbitration also reaches the interests of consumers and employees. The impact of arbitration is broad and deep in both the domestic and global legal process, and court decisions have contributed substantially to this development.”

In his nearly 35 years in legal education, Carbonneau has written extensively on matters of international litigation and arbitration. He is the author of 20 books and more than 80 articles on legal topics. An expert in the domestic, comparative, and international law of arbitration, Carbonneau has written several books on arbitration, including a treatise and a casebook.  A former Rhodes Scholar, Carbonneau held the Visiting Chair in Comparative Law and Legal Pluralism at McGill Faculty of Law in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in spring 2010. He oversees publication of the Yearbook on Arbitration and Mediation.

Toward a New Federal Law on Arbitration is available for purchase online and will ship Sept. 22. 


Wyatt Dubois
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