Issues of arbitrator conflicts of interest are as old as arbitration itself. The need to ensure that justice is not only done, but is also seen to be done in arbitration cannot be overstated, especially as an increasing volume of high-value disputes continue to take the arbitration route. This however needs to be balanced against frivolous challenges to an arbitrator’s independence and impartiality, so that the arbitration mechanism is not stymied by mere tactical moves.
Judith Gill QC’s lecture explored practical implications for the arbitration process against the backdrop of these competing considerations. Drawing on her vast experience, she took the audience through the various types of conflicts of interest, and instances where a challenge based on conflicts crosses the line and becomes an abusive one. The audience also benefitted from a comprehensive survey of the treatment of this subject under leading institutional rules (like SIAC, LCIA, and ICC), and in the national laws of jurisdictions with established arbitration practices like Singapore, England and US.
The IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest, which continue to be the source of practical guidance on this subject, were closely examined in the presentation - and triggered an interactive session as the audience applied the IBA Guidelines to the various hypothetical scenarios Judith outlined.
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Raman Kaur - Associate, MPillay