March 27, 2013 Articles

Court Intervention When the Parties' Arbitrator Appointment Process Fails

By Gilda R. Turitz

Most arbitration clauses are explicit about the number of arbitrators to hear a dispute. The process by which the arbitrators will be selected is usually spelled out or will be governed by the rules of the administering tribunal. But no clause can fully anticipate and address every future dispute or arbitrator selection problem that may be presented. When a dispute involves satisfaction of arbitrator qualifications or multiple parties selecting a panel, the arbitrator selection process may reach an impasse for which the parties may seek court intervention. But when can the courts exercise authority over the process? And how far can they go in shaping a remedy? May they strike an arbitrator from service, or order a panel to be chosen in a different manner or with a different number or arbitrators specified by the parties' clause?

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