Documents Alone

Who may be appointed an arbitrator? Certainly not a madman, an idiot, an infant or an outlaw. These are recognised disabilities. An ‘able’ arbitrator is a person of ‘sufficient skill’ in the matter under dispute and is not impeded ‘legally or naturally’ from giving good sound judgement. The category of persons may be limited and defined as indeed it is in the Centrocon Arbitration clause where the idea is to appoint persons versed in the shipping and/or grain trades. It is important, naturally to be impartial and have no bias, interest or leaning towards one or the other party. This is a ground for disqualification. If, of necessity, an arbitrator becomes a witness in the arbitration, this is also ground for disqualification. The procedure to be followed in arbitration proceedings in chronological order is as follows. First, the arbitrator(s) must be appointed by the parties to the dispute and accept the appointment. Secondly the arbitrator(s) may wish to meet with the parties to the dispute informally prior to an official hearing. Thirdly, the matter goes to a hearing, the time and place being the choice of the arbitrator(s) unless otherwise specified. Alternatively, if the parties choose, the matter may be resolved on ‘documents alone’. Each party’s counsel may be present at a hearing, at their option, provided sufficient notice is given to the opposing party. All evidence must be fully heard and the arbitrators have absolute right to decide whether evidence is admissible or not. Great care should be exercised since the wrong admission of evidence could be such a fundamental mistake as to lead eventually to the setting aside of the arbitration award. After conclusion of the hearing the arbitrators must prepare the ‘Award’ which is the document containing their decision. The award is final and for this reason must be clear, unambiguous and decisive.