Mastrobuono v. Shearson Lehman Hutton, Inc., 514 U.S. 52, 6 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 52 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

is the end of the matter, for courts are bound to interpret contracts in accordance with the expressed intentions of the parties—even if the effect of those intentions is to limit arbitration.

We have previously held that the FAA's proarbitration policy does not operate without regard to the wishes of the contracting parties. In Volt Information Sciences, Inc. v. Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior Univ., 489 U. S. 468 (1989), the California Court of Appeal had construed a contractual provision to mean that the parties intended the California rules of arbitration, rather than the FAA's rules, to govern the resolution of their dispute. Id., at 472. Noting that the California rules were "manifestly designed to encourage resort to the arbitral process," id., at 476, and that they "generally foster[ed] the federal policy favoring arbitration," id., at 476, n. 5, we concluded that such an interpretation was entirely consistent with the federal policy "to ensure the enforceability, according to their terms, of private agreements to arbitrate," id., at 476. After referring to the holdings in Southland and Perry, which struck down state laws limiting agreed-upon arbitrability, we added:

"But it does not follow that the FAA prevents the enforcement of agreements to arbitrate under different rules than those set forth in the Act itself. Indeed, such a result would be quite inimical to the FAA's primary purpose of ensuring that private agreements to arbitrate are enforced according to their terms. Arbitration under the Act is a matter of consent, not coercion, and parties are generally free to structure their arbitration agreements as they see fit. Just as they may limit by contract the issues which they will arbitrate, see Mitsubishi [Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U. S. 614, 628 (1985)], so too may they specify by contract the rules under which that arbitration will be conducted." Volt, 489 U. S., at 479.


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