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Arbitrator Intelligence posts for public comment questionnaire about international arbitrators

Arbitrator Intelligence, founded by Professor Catherine Rogers, has released a demonstration version of its new questionnaire, which, when completed, will be administered at the end of arbitration cases to collect feedback on how arbitrators manage and decide cases.
Arbitrator Intelligence logo | Penn State Law

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Arbitrator Intelligence (AI), founded by Penn State Law professor Catherine Rogers, reached a key milestone in its efforts to enhance the information available to parties selecting international arbitrators. On Feb. 22 AI released on its website a demonstration version of its new questionnaire.

When completed, the Arbitrator Intelligence Questionnaire (AIQ) will be administered at the end of arbitration cases to collect feedback from the parties and counsel on how the arbitrators managed and decided the cases. The demonstration version is designed to solicit feedback on the questionnaire and is equipped with an interactive annotation tool to allow comments directly onto the text of the AIQ.

Launched in 2014, AI aims to promote fairness, transparency, and accountability in the arbitrator selection process, and to facilitate increased diversity in arbitrator appointments. These objectives are particularly important in a regime in which the very existence of arbitration cases is treated as secret, and details of case resolutions are also confidential.

“Arbitration is different from litigation in court because in arbitration the parties pick the person who resolves their dispute (the arbitrator). But arbitration can become unfair if one party has better information about prospective arbitrators than the other,” said AI board member Christopher Drahozal, who is the Rounds Professor of Law at the University of Kansas School of Law. “AI seeks to equalize the information available to parties selecting arbitrators by collecting and disseminating feedback on how international arbitrators manage and decide cases.”

The idea behind the AIQ is to replicate, through feedback data systematically collected at the end of cases, the kinds of information about arbitrators' case management and decisional history that is currently gathered through ad hoc person-to-person phone calls.

“More, and more accurate, information will empower parties, counsel, institutions, and even arbitrators to make better-informed choices in selecting arbitrators and constituting tribunals,” said Rogers. “It will also reduce information asymmetries that undermine the fairness of arbitrator appointments and will facilitate greater diversity by allowing newer arbitrators meaningful opportunities to establish reputations based on their actual performance.”

An innovation like the AIQ is particularly auspicious in light of reports from the field:

  • In a recent survey by Berwin Leighton Paisner on diversity in international arbitration, 92 percent of respondents wanted more information about new and lesser-known arbitrators, and 81 percent wanted to give feedback about arbitrators at the end of cases. 
  • In the 2015 Queen Mary Survey, one of the worst characteristics of international arbitration was identified as the “lack of insight into arbitrators’ efficiency,” and most responses about institution improvement involved providing more information about arbitrators, how they are appointed, and their decision making.
  • In a Kluwer blog post last week, three out of the “10 Hot Topics in International Arbitration for 2017” were transparency, the arbitrator selection process, and diversity.

In light of these trends, Gary Born, a leading voice in international arbitration, said: “To thrive and flourish, international arbitration has to evolve into a more modern and predictable mechanism—especially as to how arbitrators are selected. Arbitrator Intelligence is working to implement technological and informational upgrades that are essential to that evolution.”

Further reading on the AIQ is available on the Kluwer Arbitration Blog and Global Arbitration Review

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