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“Meždunarodnoe pravosudie” (International Justice) Journal

№1 (25) 2018

The unbiased nature of arbitrators in international commercial arbitration: approaches to evaluation

Saglar Ochirova - Master student, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

Abstract. One of the most difficult problems of international commercial arbitration nowadays is bias. The links that can arise between the arbitrator and the parties are much broader and more diverse than we sometimes can imagine. How are we to evaluate whether arbitrators are unbiased, in order to ensure compliance with the principle of independence and impartiality of the arbitrators and maintain the right of the parties to elect arbitrators? In this article, the author compares standards and approaches to the evaluation of the unbiasedness of judges and arbitrators that have developed in international practice. Given the fundamental difference between a judge as a public official and an arbitrator as private practitioner, the author comes to the conclusion that they should be subjected to different standards of independence and impartiality. At the same time, bearing in mind the difficulty to prove an actual bias on the part of any decision-maker, both of them should be subjected to an objective approach, which requires the exclusion of any reasonable doubts in independence and impartiality. However, due to the marked difference in standards the unbiasedness of judges and arbitrators should be evaluated through diametrically opposed unbiasedness tests. The “reasonable apprehension” of a bias test with the lowest standard of proof and evaluation of bias on the part of a reasonable observer provides the greatest possible confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judge in the public eye, which is a key requirement to the public justice system. The “real danger” of a bias test with the highest standard of proof and evaluation of bias on the part of professionals on the contrary meets the specifics of international commercial arbitration, ensuring compliance with the principle of independence and impartiality of arbitrators, and protecting the integrity of arbitration from various kinds of procedural abuses.

Keywords: International commercial arbitration; bias; independence; impartiality; reasonable apprehension of bias; real danger of bias.

Citation: Ochirova S. (2018) Nepredvzyatost' arbitrov v mezhdunarodnom kommercheskom arbitrazhe: podkhody k otsenke [The unbiased nature of arbitrators in international commercial arbitration: approaches to evaluation]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, no.1, pp.122–134. (In Russian).

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