Journal of International Arbitration

Volume 31 (2014)

Volume 31 (2014) / Issue 6

Dario Alessi, 'Enforcing Arbitrator’s Obligations: Rethinking International Commercial Arbitrators’ Liability' (2014) 31 Journal of International Arbitration, Issue 6, pp. 735–784


Liability of arbitrators touches the heart of the concept of arbitration as it affects the legal relationship between the arbitrators and the parties and concerns some essential issues on the nature of the arbitrator's mandate.

This article intends to propose an alternative conceptual approach to the immunity-based theories, endorsing the suggestion that the arbitrator shall be liable as any normal intellectual service provider for breach of her obligations. Regarding the regime of liability, a systematization is proposed whereby strict liability, fault-based liability and tortious liability cohabitate. This relationship is argued being contractual. The existence of an objective contractual exchange underlies contractual liability for breach. As a consequence, the thesis proposed in this article is that the arbitrator shall be liable for breaches of the obligations contractually incurred. These contractual obligations can be divided into two main clusters, namely, the obligation to decide the dispute submitted and the obligation to provide a fair and equal adjudication. Thus, a dual regime of contractual liability for arbitrators is proposed. A separate set of obligations is represented by the pre-contractual duties of disclosure, which are tort-based. The plain existence of a contractual relationship between the arbitrator and the parties automatically sets aside all those theories claiming that because of the status or for some policy argument, the arbitrator must be immune from liability. As a consequence, any immunity or qualified immunity-based theory is rebutted in favor of a full liability-based conceptual scheme.  

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ISSN: 0255-8106
ID: JOIA2014035