What Is the Scope and Standard of Review Applicable to An Act 111 Arbitration Award ?
In Township of McCandless v. McCarthy, 7 Pa. Commw. 611, 300 A.2d 815, 820-21 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1973), our Supreme Court reviewed the scope and standard of review applicable to an Act 111 arbitration award.
While the court noted that its appellate scope of review was limited to narrow certiorari, it reaffirmed that the standard by which we review issues such as arbitral jurisdiction depends on whether the resolution is purely a question of law or requires fact-finding or interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Specifically, the court opined:
Generally speaking, a plenary standard of review should govern the preliminary determination of whether the issue involved implicates one of the four areas of inquiry encompassed by narrow certiorari, thus allowing for non-deferential review-unless, of course, that preliminary determination itself depended to some extent upon arbitral fact-finding or a construction of the relevant CBA.
In other words, in the absence of the noted caveat, there is no reason in law or logic why a court should defer to the arbitrator on questions of whether jurisdiction existed, whether the proceedings were regular, whether there was excess in the exercise of the arbitrator's powers, or whether constitutional rights were deprived. Id. at 540-41, 901 A.2d at 1000 citing Pa. State Police v. Pa. State Troopers Ass'n, 840 A.2d 1059, 1062-63 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004).