Addy Paola Velazquez is a fellow student of the International Legal Studies Program of the Washington College of Law. Recently, she worked for a Mexican NAFTA arbitration analyzing international disputes under NAFTA and other international investment treaties.
The role of arbitrators and advocates is shifting and remains in constant evolution. The number of arbitrations increases every year in various fields, including commercial, medical and investment disputes.
In arbitral proceedings, the parties have broader influence on the selection of who will decide their case as opposed to a trial before a judicial authority, since “arbitration differs from judicial settlement in that the parties have competence as a rule to appoint arbitrators, to determine the procedure and, to a certain extent, to indicate the applicable law.”1 However, a number of conflicts and other issues emerge whenever a party appoints an arbitrator who has previously decided a case with similar or identical issues. On the other hand, conflict can also arise whenever an advocate in a similar or identical case is appointed or selected as an arbitrator.
Since “the arbitrator has to be and remain independent and impartial and disclose all facts which may be relevant,”2 a breach of the impartiality principle by an arbitrator may result in his or her removal, or furthermore, in the annulment of an award issued by such arbitrator.