1. An arbitrator must not be connected to any of the parties to the proceeding; he should be free of any obligations and pressures, and in performing the duties of arbitrator should decide solely in accordance with his own determination, based on the material gathered in the case. Disclosure of such circumstances must be made promptly after the person is appointed as arbitrator or the circumstances arise. [Civil Procedure Code Art. 1174 §1] also refers to circumstances that could raise doubts as to the impartiality or independence of the arbitrator, not circumstances that do raise doubts.
2. The opposing party, and the not the arbitrator, is given the right to make an assessment of whether the circumstances disclosed by the arbitrator raise doubts or not, and potentially to initiate the procedure pursuant to Civil Procedure Code Art. 1176 §§ 3 and 4, including filing of an application to the state court to remove the arbitrator. It must be clearly stressed, however, that the existence of circumstances that could raise a doubt as to the independence or impartiality of an arbitrator is not equivalent to a finding of a lack of impartiality or independence of the person appointed as arbitrator.
3. The right to make a setoff is a subjective right of the holder and cannot be limited in its realization. Asserting this objection is also a procedural form of the respondent’s defence against the claimant, which it cannot be deprived of. In considering the defence of setoff asserted by the respondent as part of the examination of the justification for the principal claim, the arbitration court did not have to condition this examination on the existence of an arbitration clause in this respect.
4. The jurisdiction of the court considering a petition to set aside an arbitration award generally does not include review of the consistency of the award with substantive law or an examination of the correctness of the factual findings, other than a ruling based on a clearly selective and unobjective assessment of the evidence. Here, the grounds for the arbitration award are extensive, multifaceted and based on the indicated evidence, and explain the basis for the finding by the arbitration court that the claim for damages by the principal respondent asserted as a setoff to the claim of the principal claimant existed in the specified amount and the effectiveness of the setoff made, which resulted in denial of the principal claim. Examination of the justification for the petition is therefore not equivalent to substantive review of the award. Moreover, the appellant must remember that in deciding to submit the dispute for resolution by an arbitration court, it must be aware of both the positive and negative consequences. On one hand, the contracting parties are not exposed to the risk of lengthy proceedings, but on the other hand they waive certain procedural guarantees which apply in proceedings before the state court. Nor was there any barrier to the proceedings before the arbitration court being conducted in two instances (Civil Procedure Code Art. 1205 §2).
Publication date: 15-01-2014 | Case no.: VI ACa 663/13Key issues: arbitration agreement, arbitration procedure, arbitrator, petition to set aside arbitration award