Imagine that you are defending the respondent in an international arbitration
administered by an institution headquartered in a distant country. The arbitrator is
a lawyer at a prominent law firm there. Midway through the proceedings,
claimant gives notice that it has appointed a new lawyer to its counsel team. The
new lawyer is from the same country as the arbitrator and the institution. You
review her curriculum vitae and are surprised to discover that she is the Vice-
Chairperson of the very institution where the case is pending. You turn to the
institution’s rules and discover that under certain circumstances she has the power
to unilaterally select arbitrators to serve in proceedings administered by the
You know your client, and this is something that he will want to know about.
Before you reach for the phone you imagine the range of possible reactions from
• The arbitration institution is acting against me? The institution is sitting
at counsel table for my opponent? I didn’t agree to that. Who would ever
agree to that?
• Your firm drafted the arbitration agreement. Why didn’t they warn me
that the institution permitted this? Had I been warned, do you think I
would have agreed to this institution?
• Claimant’s lawyer must have advised his client to retain the Vice-
Chairperson. Why didn’t you give me the same advice? (Also, is it too
late for me to retain the Chairperson?)
You scour the institution’s rules for anything that would have put you on
notice that the Vice-Chairperson might be allowed to serve as counsel...