Russell Strong, a specialist international arbitration solicitor at City boutique firm Zaiwalla & Co, commented on the UK Supreme Court ruling that dismissed the appeal in Halliburton Company v Chubb Bermuda Insurance Ltd.
Russell's comments, enclosed below, have been published in Insurance POST here.
"The question was really 'should Mr Rokison have disclosed to Halliburton when he was appointed as an arbitrator in another arbitration?'"
Strong pointed out that this happens in the disputes in Bermuda Form arbitrations and shipping disputes "because the pool of relevant people is smaller and you might find that an arbitrator sits in both arbitrations".
He added: "The big decision by the Supreme Court is that there may be circumstances where the acceptance of multiple appointments involving a common party and the same or overlapping subject matter give rise to an appearance of bias."
"So the core principle here is can an arbitrator act fairly and impartially."
He added that Mr Rokison should have disclosed to Halliburton that he was involved in another arbitration with Chubb.
He said: "While the arbitration is confidential, what the Supreme Court found is that at a very high level Mr Rokison could have said simply 'I'm involved in another arbitration with a similar subject matter' then he wouldn't have breached that confidentiality that he owes [to the parties involved] and allow them to consider whether or not to challenge at an earliest stage."
Strong said that the judgment brings "finality to a key issue".
He said: "It's about whether or not legal duty exists to disclose an arbitrator's participation in other arbitrations that involve the same subject matter and/or a common party."
According to Strong, the judgment is a recognition that Bermuda Form disputes are common and regularly take place in London. It's the support for London being a premier venue for the resolution of international disputes. It's the finality on the issues.