World Arbitration and Mediation Review (WAMR) - 2007 Vol. 1 No. 4
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NATIONAL ARBITRATION FORUM CASE SUMMARIES
By Kirk Knutson* and Ryan Chandlee**
I. CALIFORNIA LAW DOES NOT ALLOW PARTIES TO CHALLENGE
ARBITRATION AWARDS BEYOND THE STATUTORY DEADLINE
The California Court of Appeals upheld confirmation of an arbitration
award in which the losing party failed to challenge the award within the
100-day deadline imposed by the California Arbitration Act. As pointed out
by the court, California practitioners have been advised to delay
confirmation proceedings until after the deadline has passed in order to
foreclose any challenge to the award.
In Eternity Investments, Inc. v. Brown, No. B190711, 2007 WL 1545698
(Cal. Ct. App. May 30, 2007), the Browns hired Eternity Investments
(Eternity) to remodel their kitchen. The remodeling contract contained an
arbitration clause. When the Browns withheld payment, the parties
submitted the dispute to arbitration.
Eternity prevailed at arbitration and subsequently filed a petition to
confirm the award. In opposing confirmation, the Browns argued that the
award should be vacated because the arbitrator exceeded his powers and
refused to hear evidence. The trial court confirmed the award.
On appeal, the court held that the trial court properly confirmed the
award because the Browns’ challenge to the award was untimely under the
California Arbitration Act (CAA).
Under the CAA, a petition to vacate or correct an award must be filed
no more than 100 days after service of the award. See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code
§ 1288. The same deadline applies if a party is challenging an award in
response to a petition for confirmation. See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1288.2.
In this case, the Browns’ response arguing for vacatur was untimely because
Eternity filed its petition for confirmation 121 days after service of the
In holding that the Browns’ response was untimely, the court explained
that the deadline for challenging an award serves the important goal of
ensuring that awards are challenged “while the evidence is fresh and
witnesses are available.” The court further explained that “confirmation [is]
a simple process absent a prompt, timely challenge.”
Kirk Knutson, Esq. is a staff attorney at the National Arbitration Forum (The Forum), 6465 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 500, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55426. He holds a J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota.
Ryan D. Chandlee, Esq. is a staff attorney at the National Arbitration Forum (The Forum) and he holds a J.D. from the University of Minnesota. He is a member of the Minnesota State Bar and a former trial attorney.