Here’s an interesting situation.
You are a party-appointed arbitrator in a Tribunal of 3. The parties are buying and selling soya beans. They have a falling out over the terms of a Trade Agreement.
Sellers sues Buyer. The dispute is commercial and relates to the minimum quantities in monthly shipments over a 12 month period. A normal commercial dispute.
But then fireworks and Buyers send strongly worded letters to public bodies alleging that Sellers have committed fraud. Sellers argue that they have been libelled and add a claim for damages for libel to the claim about minimum quantities.
Does the Tribunal have to address the libel claim? Two arguments;-
1. The arbitrators are commercial people appointed for their commercial knowledge. They know nothing about libel. They refuse to adjudge the libel claim.
2. They have to handle the libel claim. It is a dispute. The parties want the arbitrators to decide the claim. The arbitrators have no choice. Deal with it.
This issue went to the courts and the Commercial Court made a judgment. But let me throw this open for comment. How do you think the arbitrators should act. Let me hear from you and then I will let you know what the Court said.
A Family Mediation
You are a family mediator. You are approached jointly by a husband and wife for assistance in a matrimonial break up. There are two children of the marriage – a boy aged 12 and a girl aged 14. They are both represented by separate solicitors.
The mediation proceeds. A mediation agreement is signed. Letters are exchanged. Meetings take place. You become aware that there are personal issues between the parents concerning their relationship. They do not concern you as such because the divorce is proceeding and these personal issues do not impinge upon the issues in dispute which are to do with financial arrangements, holiday arrangements and involvement with schools. In due course, these matters are agreed and recorded in the Final Agreement which is signed by the husband, the wife and yourself. Your fee is paid.
Three years later your wife has passed away through illness and you are alone without children. In a social setting, you happen to meet up with the wife and a relationship commences. Out of the blue, you receive a letter from the former husband’s solicitors alleging non-disclosure by you of the relationship which, on their information, was current at the time of the mediation. Further, the letter refers to a lack of impartiality on your part and material non-disclosure of the relationship and indicates a claim for damages will follow.
What do you do?
Graham Perry qualified as a solicitor in 1973 after graduating from Churchill College, Cambridge where he studied History and Economics. He practised for nine years and then made a major career change to become Managing Director, of London Export, a UK company formed in 1953 to concentrate on trade and business with the Peoples’ Republic of China. Since 1990 Graham has been an international dispute resolver of commercial problems resolving commercial disputes.
Experienced Dispute Resolver
Commenced my career as a dispute resolver combining my legal skills and commercial experience. I am an active arbitrator and trade representative in London with the Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA), the Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats (FOSFA), the London Metal Exchange (LME) and, occasionally, with the Sugar Association. I have a growing practice in shipping disputes and sit on the arbitration committee of the LME and FOSFA. I am a frequent lecturer and writer on commodity arbitration and mediation, giving lectures in China, India, Ivory Coast, Bhutan and the United Kingdom. I am an accredited CEDR mediator.