How to choose an arbitrator?

  • Market Insight 25 March 2024 25 March 2024
  • Disputes - People Challenges

They say that an arbitration is only as good as the arbitrators. Indeed, the expertise, experience and personality of arbitrators has a major impact on how well an international arbitration goes. Arbitrators have wide latitude in determining remedies and render legally binding rulings. Thus, an arbitrator's abilities are essential to preserving the parties' trust in the arbitration process as a whole and to obtaining the advantages that initially draw parties to arbitration: neutral venue, effectiveness, expertise, affordability and enforceability.

Choosing the party-appointed arbitrator and the president are therefore arguably the most crucial decision in an international arbitration. When making this selection, several key factors warrant careful consideration.

First, choosing an arbitrator with legal expertise and experience matching the case is crucial. Indeed, it is important to select an arbitrator who possesses professional knowledge of the industry related to the dispute. Moreover, the arbitral process and the possible remedies are likely to be impacted by the arbitrator's legal background. Counsel should take into account the legal background of the arbitrators to fit the case One consideration may be whether a common law or a civil law arbitrator is more suited to the case. Likewise, language proficiency and cultural background play a pivotal role in ensuring clear communication and accurate understanding of legal documents, testimonies, and arguments presented during arbitration proceedings.

Second, if parties want the arbitration to progress swiftly, they also need to ensure that the arbitrator is available. It's important to note that renowned arbitrators often have their schedules booked several months, if not years, in advance. As their caseload expands significantly, parties may encounter challenges in securing a prompt resolution, which is one of the appealing aspects of arbitration. Furthermore, a very busy arbitrator’s ability to fully concentrate on the case at hand may be compromised. Therefore, it's essential to ensure that the selected candidate is able to commit sufficient time to thoroughly delve into the case and address any issues that arise throughout the proceedings.

Third, it is important to also taken into account the personality of the arbitrator, who not only listens attentively to the case but also possesses the required demeanour necessary to be able to persuade the other members of the tribunal of her or his position. A compelling personality can play a crucial role in shaping the direction of the arbitration proceedings and influencing the opinions of other tribunal members.

Ultimately, the arbitrator's professional expertise, availability and communication style are all factors that demand thoughtful consideration. If the chosen arbitrator embodies these qualities, it sets the stage for a promising beginning – and hopefully outcome – to the international arbitration process.

Watch Nadia Darwazeh share her thoughts on choosing an arbitrator



Additional authors:

Diana Karibian, Melanie Pourchel

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