BCDR International Arbitration Review
June 2019 – Volume 6 Issue 1
Page 93

Neutrality, Independence and Impartiality of Arbitrators: Uniformity of Definitions, Dissimilarity of Applications
Stefano Azzali


Neutrality of the arbitrator is one of the fundamental features of arbitration. It is not a universal but a relative notion, inevitably not identical in all parts of the world, at any given moment.

What should be avoided is a different application of this concept by the same individual, depending on the role played: very strict when he/she acts as counsel (and also different if acting for the Claimant or for the Respondent, as well as if appointing the co-arbitrator or the Chair), more tolerant and flexible when he/she is in the role of arbitrator. A lack of coherence, depending on which side of the barricade the same individual may be, may affect users' trust in and reliance on arbitration.

Arbitral institutions play a fundamental role in fighting, with realism, this attitude, being aware that neutrality of arbitrators is a principle that does not tolerate any compromise.