ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION #195
So what is the core quality? What is it that the arbitrator needs to possess if she/he is able to discharge their important duties? Certainly knowledge of arbitration; the rules of dispute resolution; the law of arbitration; and the law applicable to the dispute – the Sale of Goods Act for example if the dispute concerns the quality of goods and English law is the law of the contract entered into between the parties.
The arbitrator needs to be knowledgeable, informed and up-to-date. That is the obligation they owe to the parties and to the institution that may appoint them. They also need to have good personal skills – be well mannered, be organised, tidy and compact; be ahead; be alert; be interested, and be enthusiastic to discharge their responsibilities. You do need to enjoy the experience of being a dispute resolver
You need high standards of conduct, application, and commitment. Skills should be refreshed and attitudes are re-assessed to ensure you remain open-minded. Closed minds need to be avoided. By all means, draw on your experience and learn from past incidents but do not allow yourself to become mechanical, inflexible or dismissive of new arguments.
The key issue here is your own personal standards of openness, honesty, and enquiry. Colleagues may assess your knowledge and expertise but only we know whether we are being fair, balanced, impartial and open-minded. In this important context, we do need to self-regulate and run a periodic check to ensure our minds are in the right place.
The teaching of these skills tends not to receive the attention they deserve. Either the training authorities do not realise their significance or they lack the commitment to include it in their training programme. Some will even say that the above issues are common ground and so obvious that they do not need further attention. This column begs to differ. We are talking here about character, honesty and integrity – the heart of dispute resolution. Disregard it and the process is undermined.
On Monday 14 February 2022, the focus will be on a Mediation Narrative which, by chance, includes a St Valentine’s Day reference.
Good to be back.