Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 04/2011

The pernicious institution of the party-appointed arbitrator

Hans Smit

December 2010

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment


As arbitration has grown by leaps and bounds, so has the role of the party-appointed arbitrator. Surprisingly, this has not led to increased inquiry into the appropriateness of having arbitrators appointed by the parties in general, or in arbitrations against states in particular. In my judgment, party-appointed arbitrators should be banned unless their role as advocates for the party that appointed them is fully disclosed and accepted. Until this is done, arbitration can never meet its aspiration of providing dispassionate adjudication by those with special skills and experience in a process designed to combine efficiency with expertise.