BCDR International Arbitration Review
December 2020 – Volume 7 Issue 2
Page 307

Different Approaches to Counsel Conflicts of Interest: Moving Towards a Common Duty

David Brynmor Thomas KC & Ruth Keating


The general and universal duty of counsel to avoid creating conflicts of interest in arbitration is vexed - some would question the very existence of such a duty. As is explored in this article, the fundamental issue is the tension between the right of individual parties to choose the counsel they wish and the right of all participants to an independent and impartial tribunal. Surrounding all of this is the fact that each counsel will, in the background, be subject to their own domestic ethical regulations. Drawing on case law examples and arbitral rules, this article explores whether a universal duty of counsel to avoid conflicts of interests exists and, if so, the scope of such duty.