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“Three strikes and you’re out � sort of.” That’s what a California court has basically told a party that asked the court to overturn an arbitrator’s award. Consistent with three prior rulings by the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, the Second District Court of Appeal has recently held that a court will not vacate an award on the ground the arbitrator made an error of law. Baize v. Eastridge Companies, 142 Cal.App.4th 293 (Aug. 25, 2006). But the court, in a curious twist, unsettled the well-settled by asserting that the question was “an open one” � on the strange theory that another lower court decision had called into question a 1992 California Supreme Court holding on the issue. The Baizeruling lent further encouragement to persistent post-arbitration challengers by refusing to award fees against appellant Eastridge Companies. Notwithstanding the three decisions, which Baizeitself held to “control the result,” the Baizecourt held that the Supreme Court had “not conclusively resolved” the reviewability of arbitration awards and stated the issue “may be ripe for Supreme Court reconsideration.” The upshot? The finality of arbitration decisions � black-letter law under the Uniform Arbitration Act � may have become something of an open issue in California. The appellant in Baizehas accepted the Court of Appeal’s tacit invitation to seek Supreme Court review, raising the issues, among others, of what contractual language may be sufficient to invoke judicial review of an arbitrator’s legal conclusions and severability of purported judicial review provisions in the event they were held void. The petition for review is pending. In the 1992 case, Moncharsh v. Heily& Blase, 3 Cal.4th, the California Supreme Court exhaustively examined judicial review of arbitration decisions in a 33-page opinion that traced the evolution of case law on the subject over a span of 140 years. The court’s key conclusions:

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