The Federal Arbitration Act and the California Arbitration Act Diverge On Whether Interim Arbitration Awards Can Be Vacated.
In the aptonymically-named case, Judge v. Superior Court, No. B267694 (2/7 8/15/16) (unpublished), the Court of Appeal considered whether the trial judge had property vacated an arbitrator’s ruling on clause construction requiring class arbitration of plaintiff’s Labor Code Claims.
Justice Segal, authoring the Court’s opinion, explains that while an arbitration award may be vacated, an award that does not “include a determination of all the questions submitted to the arbitrators the decision of which is necessary in order to determine the controversy,” as required by Code of Civ. Proc., section 1283.4, is not an award. Because the clause construction award at issue in Judge did not qualify as an award, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to vacate it.
Believing that the trial judge had made it clear that she had made up her mind that she would vacate any class-based arbitral award, “in the interests of justice,” the Court of Appeal directed that a different trial judge hear further proceedings in the matter.
The case was apparently governed by the FAA, and as we know, the FAA can preempt state law. Interestingly, the law concerning vacation of awards differs under the FAA and under the California Arbitration Act, and even more interestingly the FAA procedure did not apply here. Footnote 7 of the decision assembles federal cases allowing petitions to vacate interim arbitration awards under Section 10 of the FAA (9 U.S.C., section 10). However, the California Supreme Court has stated that “’the United States Supreme Court does not read the FAA’s provisions to apply to state court proceedings.’ . . . As we have noted, the provisions for judicial review of arbitration awards in sections 10 and 11 of the FAA are directed to ‘the United States court in and for the district where the award was made.’” Cable Connection, Inc. v. DIRECTV, Inc., 44 Cal.4th 1334, 1351 (2008).