An arbitration panel may issue a clarification of its final award consistent with the common law doctrine of functus officio, a federal district court in Connecticut has ruled. Therefore, the clarification of the final award had to be confirmed.
Under the functus officio doctrine, once arbitrators finally have decided the issues submitted, they may not reconsider those issues, absent an agreement by the parties to the contrary. The policy underlying the doctrine is an unwillingness by the courts to permit non-judicial officers, who act informally or sporadically, to reexamine final decisions on the theory that such officers may be subject to the potential evils of “outside communication” and “unilateral influence.” In this case, functus officio did not prevent issuance of a clarification by the non-unanimous, three-member arbitration panel – even though the majority had shifted – because case law interpreting the Federal Arbitration Act makes an exception for clarifications that resolve ambiguities appearing in final awards. In addition, the panel retained jurisdiction over disputes arising as to the calculation and payment of the amounts awarded.
For the full opinion see here.