Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court limited a federal district court’s ability to hear post-arbitration motions. Depending on the outcome of an arbitration, many practitioners seek judicial review or confirmation of an arbitration award. For example, the prevailing party may seek to confirm the arbitration award to enforce (or collect upon) a judgment. In contrast, the losing party may look to the judiciary to vacate the arbitration award—often citing some type of misconduct in the arbitral forum.
The first step in this process is determining the correct forum in which to seek judicial review. Most often, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) governs the arbitration award, and thus the procedure for seeking judicial review and confirmation. The avenues available under the FAA to strike down or vacate an arbitration award are painfully limited. Similarly, the FAA provides only a few narrow avenues for federal question jurisdiction over the review of an arbitration award. Accordingly, in the absence of diversity jurisdiction, most litigants are bound to the state courts to resolve post-arbitration confirmations and vacatures.