Thursday, July 13, 2006

Qualities of International Arbitrators

There is nothing new in saying that the quality of arbitration depends very much upon the quality of the arbitrators, particularly in the international arbitration setting (countless articles have been written in this regard). The qualities of the arbitral tribunal are, evidently, of great importance, and have a direct influence in the outcome of the arbitration, and in the enforceability of the arbitral award rendered by the tribunal. Being independent and impartial, however, are not “qualities”, but legal requirements of all significant international arbitration rules and arbitration-friendly legislation. Therefore, appointing parties must have a clear understanding which personal and professional characteristics should international arbitrators have.

Aside from specific qualities such as (i) the potential international arbitrator’s listening and cross-cultural communications skills, (ii) people skills, (iii) reasoning skills, and (iv) legal skills and specialized expertise/familiarity in the industry subject-matter of the arbitration, it is important to pay attention and early identify the behaviour and personality of potential arbitrator.
Trust of the parties is essential, but not a quality (at least under Brazilian law "trust" is a mandatory legal requirement, as per Section 13 of Brazilian Arbitration Act). Age does not matter, unless the potential arbitrator is too young. Nationality may be of importance, especially in the chairman-selection process.

I finalize this posting with the words of (international arbitration) practitioner Pierre A. Karrer on qualities that international arbitrators must have:

"[I]nternational arbitrator[s]... must have some basic skills, and those take a while to acquire. You need to have independence of judgment, imagination, creativity, quickness of mind, and also a good memory. Good memory for the things that you learned at home, and those that you learned in school—yes, physics, biology, chemistry, history, all the things that you thought you would never see again. And above all, languages. This is the key to everything else." PIERRE A. KARRER (So You Want to Become an Arbitrator? - A Roadmap, The Journal of World Investment and Trade, Vol. 4, No. 3, 2003, pgs.13-15)

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