Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Can I modify or change my arbitration award? P.1

Last time, we wrote briefly about a recent Pennsylvania case which highlighted the fact that courts take into account the actions of parties to an arbitration agreement when determining the validity of the agreement. In the case we’ve been discussing, a party which believes itself to have entered into a valid arbitration agreement but which takes actions reflecting that belief may not be able to have the agreement declared invalid later on.

Getting an arbitration agreement overturned primarily depends, of course, on whether the agreement was valid in the first place. As for arbitration awards, as we’ve previously noted on this blog, they are generally enforceable in court. There may be certain instances, though, where an arbitration award may be vacated, modified or corrected.

There are various circumstances under which an arbitration award may be vacated. The exact requirements depend on whether the arbitration agreement designates the arbitration as common law or statutory. In cases where arbitration is governed by common law, an award may be vacated when it is clearly shown that there was a denial of a hearing to a party or where there has been fraud, corruption, misconduct or some other irregularity resulting in an “unjust, inequitable or unconscionable” award.

When arbitration is statutory, an award may be vacated when there is evidence of partiality, corruption, or misconduct which negatively impacts the rights of a party. An award may also be vacated when an arbitrator goes beyond the scope of his or her powers, or mishandled the hearing process by refusing to postpone, to consider material evidence, or to conduct a hearing.

We’ll pick back up on this topic in our next post, looking at circumstances under which an arbitration award may be modified or corrected.

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