The author practices maritime and commercia/law in New York City and is the editor of the Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce. He has served as counsel, party-appointed arbitrator and third arbitrator in New York maritime, commodity and insurance arbitrations. This article is based on a presentation to the Society of Maritime Arbitrators, Inc.
The role of party-appointed arbitrators in three-arbitrator proceedings has long been the subject of controversy. Specifically, to what extent-if any-is it permissible for the partyappointed arbitrator to engage in communications with the appointing parties' representatives and does such behavior compromise the obligation of the arbitrator to act with fairness? These and related issues were addressed in the recent Sunkist case-which is examined here.