November 16, 2011 Articles

Counsel Disqualified after Arbitrator Discloses Panel Deliberations

When ex parte communication leads to the disclosure of confidential panel deliberations to only one party, that party’s counsel runs the risk of disqualification from the proceedings.

By Thomas G. Wilkinson, Jr. and Michael P. Zabel

As part of an arbitration agreement, parties might agree to allow ex parte communication with their own appointees to an arbitration panel. When, however, ex parte communication leads to the disclosure of confidential panel deliberations to only one party, that party’s counsel runs the risk of disqualification from the arbitration proceedings. In a recent case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin disqualified a law firm from representing its client in an arbitration after its own appointed arbitrator forwarded to the firm 182 pages of emails that revealed the arbitration panel’s deliberations concerning pending matters in the arbitration.

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