by Michael Fox
Courts are becoming more concerned about the pervasiveness of arbitration agreements, particularly in employment and consumer settings. A Maryland court noted those concerns as it set aside an arbitrator's award of attorneys fees and sanctions. MCR America v. Greene (Md. Ct. of Spec. Appeals 11/26/02) [pdf]. The agreement between the parties did not allow the award of attorneys fees, so the arbitrator was acting outside the scope of the agreement to award them. And there were numerous grounds for setting aside sanctions against one of the parties' counsel, including that he was not a party to the arbitration agreement. As, or perhaps if, arbitration becomes more common, courts will be faced with more questions about the scope of an arbitrator's power and the interaction with judicial oversite.