Much is currently being written, particularly by corporate users, about how international arbitration is becoming more expensive and timeconsuming than it should be. These complaints usually attribute excessive costs and delays to three primary sources: (i) the parties and their counsel, (ii) the arbitrators and (iii) (in many cases) experts. We focus here on the second of these—the arbitrators and how they can best run proceedings that are both fair and efficient; we also suggest that many efficiencies can be achieved by the arbitrators’ mandatory” empowering of the parties in various ways.
One of the recurring themes in the criticisms is the perceived delays by arbitrators in holding and completing hearings or in rendering their awards. An issue in this regard is that some arbitrators have agreed to serve when they will realistically not be able to devote the necessary time to the matter. The International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) recently instituted a requirement that arbitrators complete a “Statement of Acceptance, Availability and Independence” in which they are obliged to confirm that they will be able to make available the time and effort necessary for the prompt and efficient conduct of the case and to indicate the number of cases in which they are already involved and any foreseeable demands on their time over the ensuing 12 to 18 months.1 There has been criticism concerning the specific information sought on this form and the ICC is considering possible changes, but the concept underlying the form is certainly laudable; there should be a mechanism for obtaining assurances of arbitrators’ availability.