Much has been written upon arbitrators’ independence and impartiality. The capacity of an arbitrator to act as a neutral party, rendering a decision which is based solely on the merits of the case, can be considered to be essential to arbitration. At the same time, it raises many practical difficulties. These difficulties are exacerbated in the current context of a rising number of challenges to arbitrators, which is the result, we believe, both of a broad trend towards the moralization of commerce generally, and at the same time of a more aggressive attitude of parties and counsel in international arbitration.
This article will begin with an introduction on the very notions of neutrality, impartiality and independence of the arbitrator(s), and their translation in a number of modern arbitration laws and arbitration rules (I). The focus will then be on the practical questions called upon by this colloquium, i.e. what an arbitrator must do or must not do in connection with his obligation to be neutral and independent (II). In a last chapter, some recent case-law will be specifically discussed (III). We will then very briefly draw some conclusions (IV).