The Arbitral Tribunal - Chapter 4 - AAA Yearbook on Arbitration and the Law - 30th Edition
Originally from the AAA Yearbook on Arbitration and the Law - 30th Edition
4.01 Disqualification of Arbitrators: Evident Partiality and Related Grounds
Belize Bank Ltd. v. Gov't of Belize, 852 F.3d 1107 (D.C. Cir. 2017)
An arbitrator who is a “member of the same [English] chambers as another barrister who, in proceedings unrelated in fact and time, represented a conflicting interest,” is not evidently partial or violating U.S. public policy.
Belize claimed that an arbitrator’s “bias and lack of impartiality tainted the arbitral tribunal,” because the arbitrator belonged to a law firm that conducted business with the Bank and against Belize, but failed to disclose the conflict.
The conflicts claim was rejected because English chambers are not law firms; indeed, English law prohibits barristers from entering into partnerships. Chambers are composed of individual and independent practitioners beholden to client confidences. English courts are unware of a single case that implicated a barrister for disclosing confidential information with another member of his or her chamber. The claimed conflict of interest was non-existent, negating any evident partiality or violation of U.S. public policy.
Citations and References:
a. Enron Nigeria Power Holding, Ltd. v. Fed. Republic of Nigeria, 844 F.3d 281, 288 (D.C. Cir. 2016).
b. Karaha Bodas Co. v. Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak Dan Gas Bumi Negara, 364 F.3d 274, 306 (5th Cir. 2004) (applying the public policy defense where enforcement violates the United States’ most basic notions of morality and justice).
c. Commonwealth Coatings Corp. v. Continental Causality Co., 393 U.S. 145, 151-52 (1968) (White, J., concurring) (requiring arbitrators disclose “more than trivial” business dealings).