This chapter describes the historical circumstances and objectives that surrounded the enactment of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). It then provides a commentary assessing its various statutory provisions. The FAA was special interest legislation designed to allow merchant groups to benefit from an adapted form of adjudication. The statute, however, transcended its initial purpose by incorporating principles for the regulation of arbitration that truly fostered the autonomy of the arbitral process. The FAA validated the submission and the arbitral clause as contracts, reduced the authority of courts in the operation of the arbitral process, and limited the judicial supervision of arbitral awards. Arbitration could operate independently of the judiciary and still be capable of protecting legal rights even though the arbitrators were private parties who sometimes lacked legal training. The FAA was a good first step in the direction of legitimating arbitration. Its eventual destiny was to be more robust.
Keywords: Federal Arbitration Act, FAA, special interest legislation, regulation of arbitration, autonomy of arbitration, authority of courts, independent operation, merchant groups, the submission, the arbitral clause
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