By enacting the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), "Congress declared a national policy favoring arbitration," which creates a desirably efficient, inexpensive, and expeditious means for dispute resolution. Furthermore, we can see this national policy substantiated by observing the limited ability granted to courts to review and vacate arbitral awards, which, of course, is needed to "maintain arbitration's essential virtue of resolving disuptes straightaway/" Congress promulgated three sections within the FAA to limit judicial review of arbitral awards, §§ 9-11. However, we have further seen the rise of common law grounds to vacate arbitral awards existing under the theories of "manifest disregard of the law," violations of public policy, and arbitrary and capricious determinations. This article will focuson the common law ground of "manifest disregard of the law" and explain its evolution from Wilko v. Swan to Hall Street Associates, L.L.C. v. Mattel, Inc. to its new implicit meaning under the controversial Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. Animalfeeds International Corp. Although it has been consistently stated by the courts that arbitral awards can rarely be vacated under the theory of "manifest disregard of the law," the new holding in Stolt-Nielsen impliedly expands the doctrine and perhaps erodes the fundamental essence of arbitration being the "effecient, inexpensive, and expeditious means for dispute resolutionh" that was so desirable.
Matthew C. Weiner, The Supreme Court's Manifest Disregard of the "Manifest Disregard" Doctrine: How Stolt-Neilsen v. Animalfeeds Expands Grounds for Judicial Review of Arbitral Awards, 3 334 (2011).