Written by Graham Perry

Graham Perry M.A. Cantab FCIArb Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer

20 May 2022



The parties to the arbitration are a firm of international grain traders – who appointed Arbitrator A – and a firm of Far East processors with plants in Malaysia– who appointed Arbitrator B. The Chair of the Tribunal [Arbitrator C] has recently been promoted within the Trade organisation to the group of Tribunal Chairs. Arbitrators A and C are male and Arbitrator B is female.

The first meeting of the Tribunal – without parties or representatives – leaves B a little unnerved. The Chair is modest and low key, without a strong voice or a sense of presence. Arbitrator A, by comparison, is seasoned and knowledgeable and takes the lead in discussion leaving B with the feeling that A is pressurising the Chair into falling in with A’s proposals. He is first out of the blocks with an opinion on the issues – and seems to want to get his view in first and also knows how to exploit a silence.

B is unnerved. She knows instinctively that this is not right but is hesitant about “getting involved”. She is aware from her training that a Tribunal is composed of equals irrespective of sex, age, nationality or racial/ethnic issues and senses some inequality is going on. She goes over the Board discussions and tries to give A and the Chair the benefit of the doubt. After all, she is new to the process and lacks career experience in arbitrator interaction. But something grates.

At heart, B is all for balance + fair play and she feels that is not happening. The breach is not on an industrial scale and things may improve so she decides to say and do nothing –  but she is on alert. Something is not right.

EPISODE 3. 23 MAY 2022




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