Originally published in The International Comparative Legal Guide to: International Arbitration 2012.
1. Arbitration Agreements -
What, if any, are the legal requirements of an arbitration agreement under the laws of the USA?
As a predicate to understanding this and other topics addressed in this chapter, it is important to recognise that the legal system in the United States is unique insofar as it is comprised of a dual sovereign system. The United States Constitution grants certain powers to the federal government and reserves the rest for the states. Federal law originates with the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to enact statutes for certain purposes, such as regulating interstate commerce. The fifty U.S. states are separate sovereigns and retain plenary power to make laws covering anything reserved to the states. As if this does not lend enough confusion, state law can and does vary, sometimes greatly, from state to state. Like virtually all fields of law in the United States, arbitration is regulated at the federal and state levels, and the relationship between the federal and state laws is nuanced and complex.
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