Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Enforceability of mediation agreements and arbitration awards, P.1

In our last post, we took a look at the issue of confidentiality in mediation and arbitration. As we noted, confidentiality is a central aspect of mediation, whereas it is generally not a characteristic of arbitration, though it may be in some circumstances.  In addition to confidentiality, there is also the issue of enforceability, which is different in both mediation and arbitration.

In arbitration, enforcement of an award is governed by specific rules under state law. These rules govern confirmation of an arbitration award, changes of award by arbitrators, modification or correction of arbitration awards, vacating an award and appealing court orders related to arbitration. Once an arbitration award is confirmed, it is legally binding.

Beginning with vacating an arbitration award, after an arbitration award is delivered, parties have the ability to file an application to vacate an arbitration award in a court of law on certain grounds. These grounds include evidence that there was evident partiality by an arbitrator or corruption or misconduct which infringed the rights of any party. An arbitration award may also be vacated in situations where an arbitrator went beyond the limits of his or her power; where an arbitrator refused to postpone a hearing despite a showing of good cause or conducted a hearing improperly and thereby significantly harmed the rights of a party.

Under Pennsylvania law, an arbitration award may not be vacated on the sole basis that it could not or would not be granted by a court. This is because arbitration is its own process rather than a mini-court proceeding.

In our next post, we’ll look at the enforceability of mediation agreements. 

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