How to Select the Arbitration Tribunal or Arbitrator

Corporate Practice - SS LAW CODES

Selecting the right arbitrator or arbitral tribunal is crucial for ensuring a fair, efficient, and effective resolution of disputes. The process of choosing arbitrators involves careful consideration of various criteria, methods of selection, and mechanisms for addressing frustration, delays, and defaults.

In this article, we delve into the key factors to consider when selecting arbitrators, methods of selection, and steps for confirming appointments and constituting the tribunal.

Criteria Required from Arbitrators:

Arbitrators play a pivotal role in arbitration proceedings, serving as impartial adjudicators tasked with resolving disputes fairly and impartially. When selecting arbitrators, parties should consider the following criteria:

  • Impartiality and Independence: Arbitrators must be impartial and independent, free from any bias or conflict of interest that may compromise their neutrality in the proceedings.
  • Expertise and Qualifications: Arbitrators should possess relevant expertise, experience, and qualifications in the subject matter of the dispute, ensuring their ability to understand and adjudicate complex legal and factual issues.
  • Integrity and Fairness: Arbitrators must demonstrate integrity, fairness, and ethical conduct throughout the arbitration process, maintaining the trust and confidence of the parties.
  • Efficiency and Availability: Arbitrators should be capable of managing proceedings efficiently and expeditiously, adhering to timelines and addressing procedural matters promptly.

 

How to Choose an Arbitrator:

Selecting the right arbitrator requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. Parties may consider the following steps when choosing an arbitrator:

  1. Identify Relevant Expertise: Assess the nature of the dispute and identify arbitrators with expertise and experience in the relevant area of law or industry sector.
  2. Review Qualifications and Background: Evaluate the qualifications, professional background, and track record of potential arbitrators to ensure they possess the requisite knowledge and skills.
  3. Consider Reputation and References: Seek recommendations and references from trusted sources, such as arbitration institutions, legal practitioners, or industry peers, regarding the reputation and performance of potential arbitrators.
  4. Conduct Interviews: Interview prospective arbitrators to assess their suitability, approach to arbitration, availability, and compatibility with the parties and their counsel.
  5. Negotiate and Agree: Collaborate with opposing parties to mutually agree on the selection of arbitrators, considering factors such as diversity, language skills, and procedural preferences.

 

Number of Arbitrators:

The number of arbitrators appointed to a tribunal can vary depending on the preferences of the parties and the requirements of the arbitration agreement. Common considerations include:

  • Single Arbitrator: In cases where the dispute is relatively straightforward or the parties agree to streamline proceedings, a single arbitrator may be appointed to adjudicate the dispute.
  • Three-Arbitrator Tribunal: In complex disputes or where parties seek a diversity of perspectives, a three-arbitrator tribunal consisting of a chairperson and two party-appointed arbitrators may be preferable.

 

Method of Selection:

Arbitrators may be selected using various methods, including:

  • Party Appointment: Each party may appoint one arbitrator, with the two party-appointed arbitrators subsequently selecting a chairperson or presiding arbitrator.
  • Institutional Appointment: Arbitrators may be appointed by an arbitration institution or appointing authority designated in the arbitration agreement, following established procedures and criteria.
  • Sole Arbitrator Appointment: Parties may agree to delegate the selection of the sole arbitrator to an arbitration institution or appointing authority, particularly in ad hoc arbitrations.

 

Frustration, Delay, and Default:

Despite careful selection, arbitration proceedings may encounter challenges such as frustration, delays, or arbitrator defaults. Parties should be prepared to address such situations through mechanisms such as:

  • Replacement Procedures: Arbitration agreements may include provisions for replacing arbitrators who become unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties, ensuring continuity and efficiency in the proceedings.
  • Procedural Timelines: Arbitration agreements may set forth deadlines and timeframes for conducting proceedings, encouraging arbitrators to manage cases expeditiously and avoid unnecessary delays.
  • Institutional Assistance: Parties may seek assistance from arbitration institutions or appointing authorities in resolving disputes over arbitrator defaults or procedural issues, ensuring the smooth progression of arbitration proceedings.

 

Confirmation of Appointment and Constitution of the Tribunal:

Once arbitrators are selected, the appointment process is formalized through confirmation and constitution of the arbitral tribunal. This typically involves:

  • Confirmation of Appointment: Upon selection, arbitrators may be required to confirm their acceptance of the appointment and disclose any potential conflicts of interest or other relevant information.
  • Constitution of the Tribunal: Once all arbitrators are appointed and confirmed, the tribunal is constituted, and proceedings can commence. The tribunal may hold an organizational meeting to establish procedural rules, set timelines, and address preliminary matters.

 

Conclusion

Selecting the right arbitrator or arbitral tribunal is a critical step in ensuring the success of arbitration proceedings. By considering the criteria required from arbitrators, methods of selection, number of arbitrators, mechanisms for addressing challenges, and steps for confirming appointments, parties can navigate the selection process effectively and lay the groundwork for a fair and efficient resolution of their disputes through arbitration.

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