Removal of Arbitrator for Impartiality Doubts Under English Arb Act

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Today, Pillsbury attorney Ray Sweigart published his client alert titled Removal of Arbitrator for Impartiality Doubts under English Arb Act. The Alert discusses the English Court’s removal of an arbitrator under section 24 of the Arbitration Act 1996 in Sierra Fishing Company and others v Hasan Said Farran and others [2015] EWHC 140 (Comm).

Under section 24, a party to an arbitration may “apply to the court to remove an arbitrator on [the basis that] circumstances exist that give rise to justifiable doubts as to his impartiality.” The English Court applied the test articulated by the House of Lords in Porter v Magill [2001] UKHL 67 and also relied upon the International Bar Association Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration, and held that “the fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased”. The decision also confirms the English Court’s position that arbitrators have a duty to disclose any circumstances that may raise questions or doubts as to their impartiality, regardless of whether the parties may be able to determine these through due diligence or other available procedural steps. Also worth noting are the English Court’s comments on actions that a party may take without losing the right to object to an irregularity affecting the tribunal or proceedings.

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