Selecting arbitrators is foundational to an effective arbitral process. Their astuteness and expertise form the backbone of any arbitration, acting as the crucial bridge between disputes and resolution. Where the rule of law intersects with commercial pragmatism, an arbitrator’s unique blend of expertise, impartiality, and discernment becomes essential. This ensures outcomes that are swift and just. This blog post, the fifth in our series titled Understanding Arbitration: A Guide for Businesses, will shed light on the workings of selecting these key figures, emphasising the elements contributing to their credibility and competence. We unravel the essence of arbitrator selection, offering invaluable insights for businesses and legal professionals navigating the complex tapestry of international dispute resolution.

The Arbitrator’s Mandate: Beyond Neutrality

The role of an arbitrator is multifaceted, extending well beyond the foundational principle of neutrality. While neutrality and impartiality remain paramount, in complex commercial arbitrations, it is equally vital for the arbitrator to have domain-specific expertise. This in-depth knowledge empowers them to dissect the nuances and intricacies of specialised disputes, ensuring a more informed resolution.

However, achieving the proper equilibrium between objectivity and sectoral proficiency is pivotal. Regardless of their expertise, an arbitrator must consistently uphold an unbiased stance, ensuring that their familiarity with a subject doesn’t overshadow their duty to a fair adjudication. Moreover, safeguarding procedural integrity is another significant facet of their mandate. By ensuring equal treatment of all parties and preserving the very essence of the arbitration process, arbitrators lay the groundwork for a transparent, trust-inspiring environment. Within this framework, the disputing parties can confidently present their cases. In sum, an arbitrator’s responsibility is to be both a custodian of fairness and a beacon of knowledge, each aspect vital to the arbitration’s success.

Characteristics of an Effective Arbitrator

Selecting an arbitrator is a nuanced endeavour, demanding a careful appraisal of their intrinsic and professional qualities. Central to these is the staunch commitment to neutrality. An arbitrator’s effectiveness hinges on their ability to remain consistently impartial, ensuring each decision remains untainted by bias.

Additionally, an arbitrator’s depth of knowledge in the pertinent field is indispensable alongside this bedrock of objectivity. Such expertise allows for a more intelligent understanding of the issues at hand, aligning resolutions with the realities and complexities of the industry. However, this expertise shouldn’t be rigid. In our multifaceted global marketplace, arbitrators must also be able to navigate and comprehend unfamiliar territories, underlining their adaptive abilities.

Beyond these foundational traits, the efficacy of an arbitrator is also gauged by their communicative finesse and organisational competency. Transparent and articulate communication ensures that all parties remain informed and aligned, fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding. Efficient case management also speaks volumes about an arbitrator’s dedication to a streamlined, timely resolution process.

Accordingly, an ideal arbitrator seamlessly blends impartiality and comprehensive, flexible expertise with adept communicative and managerial skills. These attributes, in concert, form the hallmark of an arbitrator poised to deliver informed and cogent outcomes.

Formal and Other Qualifications

When navigating international arbitration, businesses often grapple with determining the essential qualifications for an effective arbitrator. Central to this conversation is the weight attributed to legal training. While many champion the necessity of a legal background, considering it the backbone of sound decision-making, others opine that industry experience and niche expertise can be just as, if not more, pivotal.

Beyond general legal education, there is an undeniable emphasis on the significance of targeted arbitration training. Such specialised programmes delve deep into the intricacies of arbitration, focusing on procedure, ethics, and the unique strategies inherent to dispute resolution. These tailored courses often give arbitrators nuanced insights that broader legal curricula might not capture, enhancing their prowess in arbitral proceedings.

Complementing this is the distinction that comes with affiliations to globally-renowned arbitration institutions. Esteemed bodies such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), or the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) maintain exacting standards for their members. An arbitrator’s association with these institutions signals their dedication to the discipline and an endorsement of their adeptness and reliability.

In essence, while a foundational legal education is undoubtedly beneficial, the true hallmark of an arbitrator’s qualification often lies in their specialised training and the commendations of leading arbitration bodies.

Navigating Conflicts

Arbitration rests upon the parties’ trust in the unbiased role of their chosen arbitrator. This necessitates the diligent task of pinpointing and navigating potential conflicts of interest—a task as critical as it is complex. An arbitrator’s true independence rests on the absence of overt or latent conflicts.

A mere perception of bias can deeply erode confidence in the outcome, propelling parties into further disputes or legal entanglements with lasting impacts on the reputation of those involved. These grave consequences underscore the non-negotiable imperative of exhaustive conflict checks.

To insulate the arbitral process against potential prejudice, arbitrators and their appointing entities must champion transparency. This entails forthrightly disclosing any possible affiliations, past dealings, or factors that might, even remotely, question their impartiality. Maintaining updated disclosures and fostering a culture of open communication can stave off surprises mid-process. Instruments like the International Bar Association’s Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration are invaluable touchstones for guidance.

In arbitration, where integrity is paramount, the diligent sidestepping of conflicts is more than procedural adherence—it is key to the process’s credibility and efficacy.

A Roadmap for Selecting Arbitrators

Selecting an arbitrator is a nuanced endeavour, melding meticulous research with intuition. Amidst a sea of qualified candidates, the aim is pinpointing those uniquely aligned with the particular intricacies of one’s case.

Personal recommendations offer a reliable first port of call. The collective wisdom of colleagues, seasoned lawyers, and former clients can illuminate the strengths and styles of potential arbitrators. Also, curated databases from prominent arbitral institutions present structured overviews, allowing parties to sieve systematically through credentials, past engagements, and specialities.

There has been a burgeoning emphasis on embedding diversity within arbitration panels — a shift that’s not merely symbolic. Panels resonating with varied cultural, gender, and experiential backgrounds invariably infuse richer, more holistic perspectives into deliberations. As parties traverse arbitrator selections, this call for diversity should echo prominently, guiding choices that reshape and enrich the arbitration realm.

Pre-appointment discussions, while invaluable, tread a delicate line. Engaging directly with potential arbitrators provides insights into their modus operandi and conceptual grasp of the dispute. Yet, one must skirt discussions risking any shadow on their eventual impartiality.

Ultimately, selecting an arbitrator is both an art and a science. It requires an orchestrated blend of rigorous research, strategic engagement, and introspection, all converging to ensure the chosen individual or panel can steer the arbitration towards a balanced and informed resolution.

Closing Remarks

Selecting an arbitrator stands at the nexus of a successful arbitration, underscoring the paramount significance of this decision. This nuanced and critical choice influences the credibility, fairness, and efficiency of the dispute resolution process. The synergy between a well-chosen arbitrator and a successful arbitration outcome is inextricable. This intricate relationship is shaped by the arbitrator’s expertise, impartiality, and acute discernment, elements that echo throughout the proceedings, ensuring justice and equity. For those navigating this pivotal juncture, our counsel is clear: exercise diligence and discernment in arbitrator selection. By doing so, you affirm the sanctity of the arbitration process, ensuring its resilience and robustness. In wrapping up this instalment of our series, we urge stakeholders to prioritise this crucial choice, acknowledging its overarching impact on the trajectory and trustworthiness of international dispute resolution.


The information provided in this blog post aim to furnish readers with a broad understanding of arbitration within the context of global business. This content does not constitute legal advice. Instead, it is an educational resource. Specific decisions about arbitration and its applicability should always involve consultation with qualified legal professionals. Given that the subtleties and legal ramifications of arbitration can vary greatly across different jurisdictions, it is essential to liaise with legal experts acquainted with the specific legal context pertinent to your situation.

If you find this content valuable and have further questions, or if you require guidance on the detailed aspects of arbitration, please feel free to reach out to our dedicated team at We stand ready to guide you through these processes and address any areas of concern.

Isaiah Bozimo

Isaiah Bozimo


Daniel Ihueze

Daniel Ihueze

Senior Associate

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