International arbitrators almost universally share a sense of duty about what it means to perform their function.1 Historically, this internal ethos was the only thing that guided arbitrators’ conduct. Today, instead of being reserved to personal reflection, arbitrator ethics have become an important topic of public debate,2 and the subject of new rules and standards. Several trends in the international arbitration community account for this shift.
As international arbitration has become more popular, there has been a dramatic expansion in the pool of arbitrators, and a commensurate diversification of the cultural and legal traditions among them and among parties. Relatedly, both law firms and corporations have become larger and their structures more complex, raising new and more subtle questions about what might constitute a conflict of interest. This growth, increased complexity, and diversification have raised new challenges to the previous consensus among arbitrators and parties about what is right with regard to arbitrator conduct.
Parallel to these developments, there have also been changes in international arbitration practice. On the one hand, arbitral practice has become more transparent and subject to more specific rules.