With arbitration increasingly becoming the preferred method of dispute resolution, one can note a consequent growth in the pool of arbitrators. In light of the truly international dimension of arbitration, it is also becoming increasingly common to have a diverse panel of arbitrators from different legal backgrounds and cultures overseeing the same case. With this in mind, it is of paramount importance to have common standards in order to assess the conduct of arbitrators in a uniform manner. In the past few years, the high number of challenges to arbitrators has raised awareness with regard to the standards followed in arbitral proceedings. This is particularly noteworthy, since partiality is usually relied on to challenge recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award under Article V(2)(b) of the New York Convention 1958. It is sufficient to state that an award is of no use to the successful party if it cannot be enforced.

An arbitrator’s obligation to be and to remain independent and impartial can arise out of multiple sources. Arbitration rules can create this obligation, which is mandatory if adopted by the parties. Alternatively, parties can agree to resort to soft law (such as guidelines, and codes of ethics) that contain similar provisions, but which are persuasive rather than mandatory in effect.

Oct-Dec 2016 issue

Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb)