The Selection of Arbitrators: A Comprehensive Overview

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

Article

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Introduction

In arbitration, the selection of arbitrators plays a pivotal role. As the individuals who will ultimately render a decision on the dispute, arbitrators must be impartial, independent, and well-suited to the specific issues at hand. Let’s delve into the process and considerations surrounding the selection of arbitrators.

What is an Arbitrator?

An arbitrator is a neutral third party appointed to resolve disputes in arbitration proceedings. Depending on the arbitration agreement and the institutional rules governing the arbitration, the arbitral tribunal can consist of a single arbitrator or a panel, typically of three arbitrators.

How Are Arbitrators Selected?

1. Direct Agreement Between Parties:

Parties to a dispute can directly agree on an arbitrator or the composition of an arbitral panel.

2. Appointment by Arbitration Institutions:

If parties cannot agree or if the arbitration is institutional (e.g., under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce or the London Court of International Arbitration), the institution may appoint the arbitrator(s).

3. Appointment by a Designated Authority:

Some arbitration rules provide for a neutral third party or a designated authority to select arbitrators if parties can’t agree.

4. Combination of Methods:

For a three-arbitrator tribunal, each party might select one arbitrator, and the two chosen arbitrators will then select the third, who typically acts as the presiding arbitrator.

Key Considerations in Selecting Arbitrators

1. Expertise and Experience:

Choose arbitrators with specific expertise relevant to the dispute, be it in commercial matters, construction, intellectual property, or another specialized area.

2. Impartiality and Independence:

Arbitrators must not have any bias or predisposition that favors one party. They must disclose any potential conflicts of interest.

3. Availability:

Ensure the arbitrator has the time to devote to the case, especially if it’s a complex matter.

4. Reputation:

A well-respected arbitrator can ensure that the final award is more readily enforceable and accepted by the parties.

5. Procedural Preferences:

Some arbitrators might be known for their hands-on approach, managing proceedings strictly, while others may adopt a more flexible approach.

In cross-border disputes, having an arbitrator familiar with the cultural nuances and legal traditions of involved parties can be beneficial.

7. Language Skills:

Ensure the arbitrator is fluent in the language of the arbitration.

Challenges to Arbitrator Appointments

Parties can challenge an arbitrator’s appointment if there are justifiable doubts about their impartiality, independence, or if they don’t possess the qualifications agreed upon. The process for such challenges is often set out in the arbitration rules governing the proceedings.

Conclusion

The selection of arbitrators is a fundamental step in the arbitration process. A well-chosen arbitrator or tribunal ensures that the dispute is resolved in a fair, efficient, and knowledgeable manner, leading to an award that is both just and enforceable.

Disclaimer

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It’s crucial to consult with legal professionals when selecting arbitrators or engaging in arbitration proceedings.

The choice of arbitrator(s) can profoundly impact the trajectory and outcome of the arbitration. As such, it remains one of the most strategic decisions parties make in the arbitration process.

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