How to Choose a Good Arbitrator

One of the crucial steps in resolving a dispute through arbitration is choosing an arbitrator. In the case of a sole arbitrator, both disputing parties should agree on who will hear their case. With tribunals, both parties choose their own representative, and those two choose a chairman.

In either instance, choosing the right person is absolutely vital to the success of the hearings. A poor decision could result in a process that is far more drawn out than it should be, or it may undermine the results, making them harder to enforce. In order to ensure a good outcome, you must make a well-informed decision.

Power of Word of Mouth

While it’s important to look at each candidate’s CV, expertise, and other professional qualities, one must not underestimate the value of word-of-mouth referrals. Candidates who come well recommended by their peers and other parties are highly valuable, and they will typically deliver solid, impartial results. Asking legal counsel and professional networks for good candidates will help you find the best candidates.

Relevant Experience

As you vet arbitration candidates, one of the first qualities you should look at is their professional and legal experience. Lawyers, retired judges, and others with solid legal expertise will generally provide you with solid results backed by reason, law, and fairness. Complex cases benefit a great deal from an arbitrator with a strong legal background, so more often than not, your arbitrator should have some experience in law.

In addition to legal expertise, relevant industry experience is also helpful, especially in niche markets. Experience with the ins and outs of these industries may be just as valuable as a legal background since it expedites the process and ensures a fairer award.

Adequate Time to Devote to the Case

Another item to watch out for is the candidate’s caseload. Highly recommended arbitrators typically have heavy caseloads, and that will often translate into less time for your dispute. If your arbitrator isn’t able to devote adequate time to your case, then the process may become drawn out, and the results may not be as high quality as they could be.

That said, a busy arbitrator isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If timeliness is the ultimate issue, then it may be best to seek someone with a lighter caseload, but in more complex cases, the higher experience should probably win out.

Strong Management Skills

Managerial skills are another factor to keep in mind. Arbitration has no set procedural guidelines, and this allows it to be handled in a fairly efficient manner. However, there is also the possibility that the process will become drawn out. An arbitrator with good management skills can keep hearings on track and offer a well-informed decision.


Finally, as much as you’d want a candidate who will side with you in the hearing, it’s vital that they be impartial. A biased arbitrator may split a tribunal, causing the other two to side against him or her, and if the end result of the hearings seems partial to one party, it may undermine the enforceability of the award.

To sum up, your arbitrator should have requisite skills, enough time to devote to the case and the highest integrity. Hart David Carson LLP provides arbitration and other ADR services, so if you are involved in a dispute, contact us today.

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