You are making progress as an arbitrator. You are settling into your new responsibilities when you receive an enquiry for an appointment from one of the Leading Law Firms. You are quietly pleased – not smug or boastful but feeling good about yourself. After all, a Leading Law Firm thinks you are worthy of an appointment.
You deal with the preliminary steps – no conflict of interest, you have time available, fees etc – and then the papers arrive. Quite quickly, you form a view that this is not a strong case. A number of weaknesses jump out of the pages. Of course, you know that you need to read both sides’ arguments but things are already looking rather flakey for the party that has appointed you.
Your mind starts to work. The Law Firm has status + standing; you are touched that they have appointed you. It would be good, you think to yourself, to “get a result” for them but you are concerned that their case is weak. There are some points in their party’s favour but taken collectively they do not amount to anything significant.
Bad thoughts begin to creep in. “I would like to receive more instructions in the future. …Maybe their case is not so weak… Maybe I can “find” arguments to put to my fellow arbitrators”
Stop! You are on a slippery slope. You are thinking the wrong way. Back to Basics. S33 requires you to be fair and impartial. S33 does not say anything about how to use appointments to promote your arbitral career. Eject any thoughts of personal advancement or of ingratiating yourself with the top Law firm by advancing unconvincing arguments to your fellow arbitrators.
At the end of the day, Arbitration is all about Character. You can do it the right way or the wrong way. Fellow arbitrators know the difference. So be strong. Have principles; Stick to them. Be straight, honest and above board. Always.