State Courts' Attitude to Arbitrator Challenge Applications: Rich Tapestry of Arbitrator Bias Standards
Lord Goldsmith QC, PC, Natalie Reid & Maxim Osadchiy
The exact phrasing and application of arbitrator bias standards often vary across jurisdictions. This lack of uniformity is not conducive to predictability and finality of arbitrations, and does not build confidence in the integrity of a process still largely defined by party selection of the decision-makers. The article examines key aspects of the legal framework governing arbitrator challenge applications in four leading arbitral jurisdictions: the United States, England and Wales, France, and Singapore. It questions whether the textual differences in the formulation of arbitrator bias standard(s) in these jurisdictions are in fact significant, or could actually lead to conflicting outcomes. The article concludes that while the lack of consistency is less acute than is commonly perceived, there would be benefit in greater uniformity. To that end, the authors call for wider reception of soft law instruments in this area where appropriate, consistent with both the longstanding view of arbitration as the preferred method for resolving cross-border business disputes in these and other leading jurisdictions, and increasing interest and acceptance of commercial arbitration in emerging jurisdictions.