Much has been written about judicial interference with arbitral awards, far less about interference with arbitrators. Yet the latter may be of intense and immediate concern to practitioners. What may an arbitral tribunal do, or what should it do, when faced with judicial actions or pronouncements that purport to paralyse its work?
Out of the gloom of a wintry London evening in my fledgling years of practice, I was led wide-eyed – a callow apprentice just out of his twenties—into a deadly trap before a packed audience in an amphitheatre on Russell Square. It was not a sun-drenched Andalusian plaza de toros; the decorous spectators did not scream for blood; but the intent was the same. I was to be cut to pieces. Cajoled by a flattering invitation, I had made the journey from Paris to address an audience which would be interested, or so I was naively led to believe, in views I had expressed in an article. As I descended the stairs of the arena, I knew something was amiss: too big a place, too many people. A distinguished-looking man two generations my senior waited at the podium, bald and courtly, but of a steely sort of manner that did not suggest affinity to compromise – bringing to mind, perhaps, Olivier as the implacable dentist in Marathon Man. I recognised him from newspaper photographs. “Ah,” said the ineffably charming faculty member who was serving as my escort, “allow me to introduce you to your opponent in tonight’s debate.” (Surely none of Albion’s minions has ever used more dulcet tones to announce the fait accompli of perfidy.) “I don’t believe you have met Dr. F.A. Mann.”