UC Law Journal


Commercial arbitration boasts the advantages of flexibility, efficiency, and finality. In an effort to make decisions by arbitrators binding and final, legislators have provided only limited grounds for judicial review of arbitral awards. However, arbitral choice of remedy has proven to be fertile ground for attempted judicial activism. A recent example is the California Court of Appeal's decision in Advanced Micro Devices v. Intel Corp., which was subsequently reversed by the California Supreme Court. An analysis of judicial decisions regarding how arbitrators may fashion relief reveals imprecise standards that have proven to be contradictory and unworkable.

This Note explores the question of when commercial arbitrators "exceed their powers" in fashioning relief. The Note begins by reviewing the propounded advantages of the arbitral process and discusses the most common illustrations of discontent that prompted quests for judicial intervention. It then outlines the statutory ground for judicial review of arbitral awards and the "excess of powers" provisions. The Note analyzes and reveals the shortcomings of the courts' understanding of the scope of arbitral remedial powers. It also offers support for affording arbitrators remedial flexibility, and suggests guidelines for legislators who desire to amend the "excess of powers" provision for review. Finally, the author concludes with some suggestions for practitioners who desire to use the arbitration process but wish to limit arbitral remedial authority.

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