Why States Should Adopt UAA

The original Uniform Arbitration Act (UAA) was promulgated in 1955 (and amended in 1956), and became the law in 49 jurisdictions. Since that time, the number of disputes in arbitration has grown.  Indeed, over the years, arbitration provisions have been utilized in a variety of contracts, often providing for arbitration of disputes that have traditionally been resolved by litigation.  To address the growth in arbitration, the Uniform Law Commission revised the UAA and promulgated the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (RUAA) in 2000, which provides more complete arbitration procedures and provisions.

Like its predecessor, the RUAA continues the central policy of authorizing parties to agree to arbitrate disputes before an actual dispute exists.  The RUAA, however, addresses aspects of arbitration not covered by the previous version.  In addition, the new act attempts to modify the UAA’s provisions to avoid preemption by the Federal Arbitration Act.

  • Provisional Remedies.  Before an arbitrator is selected, a court may order provisional remedies to protect the effectiveness of the arbitration.  After an arbitrator is selected, the arbitrator has this express power.
  • Consolidation.  An arbitrator may consolidate separate, but related, arbitration proceedings.
  • Default Act.  The act expressly becomes a default act, allowing many of its provisions to be waived or varied by contract.  However, certain necessary provisions may not be waived or varied in order to protect the parties.
  • Arbitrator Disclosure.  Before accepting appointment as an arbitrator, one must disclose any known facts that could affect his or her impartiality, such as financial or personal interests in the outcome.  Non-disclosure may be a ground for vacating an arbitration award.
  • Immunity of Arbitrator.  Arbitrators have express immunity from civil liability to the same extent a judge acting in his or her judicial capacity would be immune.
  • Express Authority of Arbitrators During Arbitration Proceedings.  The act contains a number of provisions intended to place arbitrators on the same level as judges.  Such provisions include giving an arbitrator the express authority to make summary dispositions of claims or issues, to use discovery processes as necessary, and to otherwise conduct proceedings as appropriate to aid in a fair and expeditious disposition of the proceeding.
  • Punitive Damages/Other Relief.  Arbitrators are expressly authorized to award punitive damages or other exemplary relief when appropriate.  Also, attorney’s fees may be awarded accordingly.

The RUAA continues the goal of the UAA to provide uniformity in law.  The RUAA improves upon its predecessor by providing better and more complete arbitration procedures to meet modern needs.  It also aligns state law with federal law, which decreases the potential for litigation on preemption grounds.  It is an important advance in the law of arbitration, which every state should adopt.