June 14, 2017 feature

Circuit Split on Jurisdictional Test for Post-Award Arbitration Petitions

First Circuit deepens split over federal court review of arbitration awards

By Sara E. Costello

Federal circuit courts are split over what test should be used to determine if federal question jurisdiction exists for petitions to confirm, vacate, or modify arbitration awards.

In Ortiz-Espinosa v. BBVA Securities of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit endorsed the look-through approach, which permits courts to examine or look through petitions to the underlying dispute to determine whether jurisdiction exists. The U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third, Seventh, and D.C. Circuits reject this approach, and ABA Section of Litigation leaders predict that the split will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future.

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