First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 11 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court

ing an agreement between parties, e. g., accepting findings of fact that are not "clearly erroneous" but deciding questions of law de novo. See 19 F. 3d, at 1509.

One Court of Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit, has said something different. Because of federal policy favoring arbitration, that court says that it applies a specially lenient "abuse of discretion" standard (even as to questions of law) when reviewing district court decisions that confirm (but not those that set aside) arbitration awards. See, e. g., Robbins v. Day, 954 F. 2d, at 681-682. First Options asks us to hold that the Eleventh Circuit's view is correct.

We believe, however, that the majority of Circuits is right in saying that courts of appeals should apply ordinary, not special, standards when reviewing district court decisions upholding arbitration awards. For one thing, it is undesirable to make the law more complicated by proliferating review standards without good reasons. More importantly, the reviewing attitude that a court of appeals takes toward a district court decision should depend upon "the respective institutional advantages of trial and appellate courts," not upon what standard of review will more likely produce a particular substantive result. Salve Regina College v. Russell, 499 U. S. 225, 231-233 (1991). The law, for example, tells all courts (trial and appellate) to give administrative agencies a degree of legal leeway when they review certain interpretations of the law that those agencies have made. See, e. g., Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, 843-844 (1984). But no one, to our knowledge, has suggested that this policy of giving leeway to agencies means that a court of appeals should give extra leeway to a district court decision that upholds an agency. Similarly, courts grant arbitrators considerable leeway when reviewing most arbitration decisions; but that fact does not mean that appellate courts should give extra leeway to district courts that uphold arbitrators. First Options argues that the Arbitration Act is special because the Act, in one

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