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Seeking to bring arbitration into disrepute, an evil gremlin might contemplate two starkly different routes. One route would tolerate appointment of pernicious arbitrators, biased and unable to judge independently. An alternate route to shipwreck, also reducing confidence in the integrity of the arbitral process, would establish unrealistic ethical standards that render the arbitrator’s position precarious and susceptible to destabilisation by litigants engaged in dilatory tactics or seeking to annul unfavourable awards. To reduce the risk of having cases decided by either pernicious or precarious arbitrators, those who establish and apply ethical guidelines walk a tightrope between the rival poles of (i) keeping arbitrators free from taint, and (ii) avoiding maneuvers that interrupt proceedings unduly. The job of evaluating independence or impartiality implicates subtle wrinkles to the comportment of individuals in the application of ethical standards entails a spectrum of situations in which mere perceptions of bias may be given weight equal to real bias.


Published as: "Arbitrator Bias," 12 Transnational Dispute Management (TDM) (2015).

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