The Arbitral Tribunal - Chapter 8 - Arbitration Law of Russia: Practice and Procedure
8.1. NUMBER OF ARBITRATORS
8.1.1. Sole Arbitrator or Panel
The number of arbitrators to be appointed is an important consideration in the drafting of an arbitration clause or a submission agreement. In commercial cases, the choice in practice is between one and three. 1 The number of arbitrators could also matter if the parties want to deviate from the agreement. Depending on the award sought and the nature of the dispute, parties that initially agreed on a three-member tribunal might wish to have a sole arbitrator appointed, e.g. because the amount in dispute is insignificant.
There are several practical advantages to referring a dispute to a sole arbitrator. Appointments for meetings or hearings can be more easily arranged with a sole arbitrator than with a tribunal of three arbitrators. It is also more cost-efficient, since the parties will only have to bear the fees and expenses of one arbitrator rather than three. The proceedings generally take less time, since a sole arbitrator does not need to deliberate with other members of the arbitral tribunal. If parties in commercial arbitration are able to agree to appoint a sole arbitrator in whom they both have confidence, it really makes sense for them to do so.2
In ICAC and MAC proceedings each party, when making an appointment, can also nominate a reserve arbitrator to step in if the chosen arbitrator is unable to act (Section 17(3) of the ICAC Rules). This is quite an interesting rule. On the one hand, it expedites the proceedings if an arbitrator declines to be appointed or is successfully challenged by the other party. On the other hand, by the time the reserve arbitrator needs to step in, there could have been an adverse change in his conflict position or availability to act, in other words, an early appointment of a reserve arbitrator is not always good, and it does have its drawbacks.