(47) Most famously, Lord Coke declined to order a dispute between merchants to private adjudication in 1609, explaining that while a merchant was free to contract for private dispute resolution, "he might countermand it; for a man cannot by his act make such authority, power, or warrant not countermandable
which is by the law or of its own nature countermandable
." (48) The original rationale for this revocability is unclear, (49) but by the eighteenth century, English courts cited judicial envy.
[a]lthough William Wilde, the defendant, was bound in a bond to stand to, abide, observe, etc., the rule, etc., of arbitration, etc., yet he might countermand it, for one cannot by his act make such authority, power, or warrant not countermandable which is by the law or of its own nature countermandable.
When the law has declared, that an agreement for an arbitration is, in its very nature, revocable, and cannot be made irrevocable by any agreement of the parties, courts of equity are bound to respect this interposition, and are not at liberty to decree that to be positive and absolute in its obligation, which the law declares to be conditional and countermandable. (31) Morse and Tobey are merely illustrative of numerous other nineteenth century court decisions affirming the doctrine of revocability.