Wake Forest Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 4 (2003), pp. 1283-1326


Two important doctrinal developments of the 1980s--judicial deference to agency interpretations of statutes and the enforceability of predispute agreements to arbitrate statutory claims--individually have received considerable attention from courts and commentators. However, the interplay between these two doctrinal strands has gone largely unnoticed. This Article recognizes that both strands have something important in common--each upholds statutory interpretation by entities which the Chevron doctrine, in which the Court held that statutory silence or ambiguity may serve as an implied delegation of interpretative authority to administrative agencies, applies in the context of arbitration of statutory claims. It considers whether an understanding of Chevron's application in arbitration proceedings will facilitate judicial review of arbitral decisions.

The Article provides a brief overview of the Supreme Court's approach to arbitration of statutory claims, including employment claims. It then discusses the standards for judicial review of arbitral awards, focusing on the difficulty of ensuing that substantive rights are not lost through arbitration when judicial review of arbitral awards is narrowly cabined. The Article next discusses the Chevron doctrine and demonstrates how recognition that Chevron deference principles apply in arbitration as well as in judicial proceedings can assist arbitrators in resolving statutory claims and could facilitate judicial review. The Article concludes, however, that uneven application of Chevron by the Supreme Court in fact complicates judicial review of arbitrators' statutory rulings, thus providing an additional reason for a more consistent approach by the Court to Chevron.