The duties and obligations of the tribunal are to be found primarily in the arbitration agreement and, by incorporation, in any institutional rules. These will be supplemented by the national laws of the seat and, as applicable, common or civil law principles. The tribunal will also have to observe ethical standards although these may replicate many of the primary sources.
Several common themes emerge from agreements, rules, and laws.
A. Acting Fairly and Impartially
This duty is a feature of nearly all modern legislation. It is considered to be a feature of the UNCITRAL Model Law (albeit it does not use the words “impartial” or “fair”) because the treatment of the parties “with equality” and that the requirement that “each party shall be given a full opportunity of presenting his case” are considered to be equivalent to principle of impartiality and fairness.
The concept of “fairness” entails fairness to both sides. Principles may conflict. For example, many rules will have an obligation to determine the reference with expedition and yet a party may wish to adduce further submissions, argument, and evidence that may defeat that aim. This may also conflict with a duty to allow a party to fully present its case. Inevitably, a balance must be struck to ensure that the procedure is kept under control.
Perhaps the foremost duty in this connection is that of equality and permitting or, perhaps more strictly, giving a reasonable opportunity to, a party to fully present its case.