Impartiality and Independence- Ethics of Arbitrators

Ethics of Arbitrators

Arbitration has continued to evolve over time, but one thing that has remained is its efficiency and acceptance as a reliable method of Dispute resolution. Of course, there have been detractors and advocates for it as a reliable resolution method to dispute resolution, but one thing that has remained clear, even to date, is that arbitration has continued to grow and has become nationally and internationally accepted in every field.

As arbitration has continued to receive a warm reception, concerns and fears have also been raised on its reliability as a fair system for dispute resolution. Over time, these concerns have demanded more exposure on the Ethic of Arbitrators to know if they are indeed neutral and would perform based on objectivity while upholding neutrality.

Arbitration ethics is a serious discussion that cannot be over-emphasized and is considered a major part of the arbitration system. One reason for this is that, naturally, the public widely perceives arbitration as a private system of dispute resolution, which can be easily influenced by the arbitrators and presiding decision-makers of a case. Some people actually believe that the National courts provide a fair system that is driven by justice and well guided by laws.

Arbitration ethicsThe truth, however, is that most of these perceptions and stances of the public are not entirely true as a close look into the Arbitration ethics act that was originally proposed in 1977 gave a well-defined explanation on the role of arbitration. It also reveals the laws that guide the system to ensure Fair hearing and judgment. There has been an evolution in the initial act of the code of ethics to make arbitration hearings more objective, independent, and neutral.

This article will focus on neutrality of arbitration as suggested in the code of ethics Acts to give readers a full understanding of the operations of arbitration and how it can be trusted as a system of judgment just like the National courts.

Arbitration Ethics: Neutrality

The neutrality of arbitration in the code for ethics fully covers the impartiality and independence of arbitration and arbitrators in dispute resolution. The case of neutrality in arbitration is a serious concern for disputing parties, especially in international commercial dispute resolution involving different jurisdictions.

The code of ethics on arbitration attempts to tackle any possibility of impartiality in arbitration by giving independence a level of control in their own cases, which they can use in the best way possible or as they see fit.

To ensure impartiality and independence in arbitration, most commercial arbitration cases see the parties or the institution administering the case provide at least three arbitrators. It could be more where need be. This practice is to ensure the impartiality and full independence of the arbitral tribunals. Parties are usually left with the power to pick their own arbitrator or arbitration team, while a neutral institution or organization not biased to any of the parties’ cause is mandated to appoint an arbitrator not subjected to any party.

The code of ethics urges all arbitrators in a case to be neutral in every area. This means that they must be impartial and independently carry out their duties to reach the best results. This standard of ethics is highly emphasized in cases with international leaning, though domestic arbitral proceedings also emphasize that arbitrators hold on to fairness when representing a party or presiding over a case.
Summarily, impartiality in arbitration is generally followed in three mains steps as the code of ethics allows:

  1. Disputing Parties are allowed to select their own arbitrator: this is done so that any party will have no perceived belief that the arbitrator defending its cause may not be enthusiastic enough, for one reason or the other.
  2. Disputing parties are allowed to pick the date and time of hearing so that cases are addressed at each party’s most convenient time, giving them the option to prepare as much as they desire.
  3. The presiding arbitrator must have no prior relationship with any of the parties’ on a personal level or in any form that could ultimately trigger a bias.

The interdependence of arbitration is also another area addressed under the umbrella of neutrality. While the public is more focused on the impartiality and professionalism of arbitrators to drive a fair hearing, the independence of arbitral tribunals and cases is just as extremely important. In the inner circle of the case, it is expected that the presiding arbitrator of the dispute is highly neutral and has no sentimental leanings to any of the parties in the dispute.

On the external circle, arbitration independence is also pushed for, with most jurisdictions aiming to reduce the activities of the National courts. The national court is usually a background player in all arbitration cases and can become very active in cases of perceived bias by any party.

While this situation is on paper, great, the fact is that it does take away the independence of the arbitral tribunals and the code of ethic on neutrality have not been able to effectively end such interference. There has been a call for reforms by active players in the arbitration system to allow allow arbitration rulings to become binding. If this can be established is a situation that is still unknown.


Arbitration is a system for resolving disputes that have earned its name and are considered more efficient to national courts for obvious reasons. However, it is important to note that impartiality and independence are serious discussions with severe consequences. You will need experts in the system to help you get sorted in the best possible ways.

Rattsakuten is a major firm with experts and skilled professionals that are dedicated to helping clients know everything concerning the impartiality and independence of the system and if a certain dispute should be handled via arbitral processes or other alternatives. You can reach out to the firm here

About Rattsakuten

Rattsakuten is a leading law firm focused on Commercial Arbitration and Dispute Resolution. Based in Sweden, Rattsakuten handles dispute resolution and Arbitration matters before the SCC (Swedish Chamber of Commerce), ICC, HKIAC, and several other Arbitration tribunals.

Fredrik Jörgensen

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