Challenging the tribunal’s independence or impartiality
Produced in partnership with Clifford Chance
Challenging the tribunal’s independence or impartiality

The following Arbitration practice note produced in partnership with Clifford Chance provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Challenging the tribunal’s independence or impartiality
  • Challenging independence or impartiality
  • Application to the arbitrator
  • Application to the appointing authority
  • Application to the national court
  • The test of bias
  • The relevance of the DAC Report
  • Specialist arbitrators
  • Consequences of a successful challenge
  • The relevance of the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration
  • More...

This Practice considers why and how a party may challenge an arbitrator’s independence and/or impartiality in arbitral proceedings. Reference is made to the law of England and Wales, the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996) and certain international arbitration rules. This Practice Note should be read in conjunction with Practice Note: Ensuring the arbitral tribunal's independence and impartiality, which explains the importance of impartiality and independence in the arbitral process.

Challenging independence or impartiality

Where a party has doubts as to the independence or impartiality of an arbitrator, or has concerns about the ability of an arbitrator to perform their duties, arbitral rules and national laws allow for challenge to the appointment of that arbitrator.

A challenge may take place in one of three ways: applying to the arbitrator, applying to the appointing authority (eg the governing body of an arbitral institution) or, if unavailable or once those routes have been exhausted, applying to the national courts.

An application to challenge the appointment of an arbitrator should be made without delay. Whether the challenge is made to an arbitral institution or a national court will depend on the type of arbitration proceedings in question, ie whether institutional rules are provided for. Rules of arbitral institutions and national law generally state that a party must make a challenge within a set time period following the formation of the tribunal or

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