Generally, courts may only set aside arbitration awards on the grounds listed in the Federal Arbitration Act or the applicable state arbitration code. However, all federal circuit courts and a few state courts have adopted a non-statutory exception that allows a court to overturn an arbitrator's decision if the arbitrator has exemplified a "manifest disregard" of the law.
In 2002, after several years of tentative lower court decisions, the Georgia Supreme Court, in Progressive Data Systems v. Jefferson Holding Corporation, held that manifest disregard is not a proper ground for vacatur in Georgia. The court emphasized that Georgia's Arbitration Code does not iinplicitly contain the manifest disregard standard, and that Georgia courts should not liberally interpret the Code in a vain attemept to find it. In 2003, however, the Georgia General Assembly amended the Georgia Arbitration Code to specifically include manifest disregard as a ground for vacating arbitration awards. Governor Sonny Perdue signed the act in June of 2003, effectively nullifying the Georgia Supreme Court's decision in Progressive Data Systems, and thereby making Georgia the first state in the country to statutorily adopt the manifest disregard standard. Nevertheless, because the new act does not instruct courts regarding how to apply manifest disregard, it is uncertain whether Georgia courts will adopt a broad or narrow interpretation of the doctrine.
John W. Hinchey and Thomas V. Burch,
Georgia General Assembly Adopts "Manifest Disregard" as a Ground for Vacating Arbitration Awards: How Will Georgia Courts Treat the New Standard?
Ga. B.J. 10
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/1202