Law professors and an alum launch new interactive resource to improve fairness and transparency in international arbitration
September 22, 2014
On September 22, Law professors Catherine A. Rogers, Christopher Zorn and Penn State Law alum and Post-Grad Fellow Alexander Wiker launched Arbitrator Intelligence, an innovative interactive online resource to improve access to information in international arbitration. The resource, called Arbitrator Intelligence, when fully developed will be a non-profit informational network that increases and equalizes access to critical information in the arbitrator selection process.
Rogers conceptualized the idea several years ago in a law review article that first identified informational asymmetries that affect selection of international arbitrators, and argued there was a need for a more fair and functional market for this critical information. Rogers paired up with alum Wiker to turn this abstract idea into a reality, and were joined by Zorn, who will contribute expertise in sophisticated data analytics that will be required in later phases of the project.
In commenting on the launch, Rogers says “One of the greatest things about getting Arbitrator Intelligence going has been the amazing encouragement and tangible support that we have received from so many friends, supporters, donors, and even just curious onlookers. In this respect, the end purpose of Arbitrator Intelligence—to facilitate collaborative building of an interactive informational resource—has been very much part of the means of creating it.”
Arbitrator Intelligence is currently in a preliminary start-up phase, organized around a Pilot Project. The Pilot’s goal is to jumpstart Arbitrator Intelligence by collecting as many international arbitral Awards as possible from its launch through January 14, 2015. Success in the Pilot will demonstrate the project’s potential to assemble valuable, previously inaccessible information about arbitrators through global participation of interested stakeholders. Even in just the few hours after the formal launch, messages and Memberships have been pouring in from Japan to Mexico, from Norway to New Zealand, from Kenya to Hong Kong, from Egypt to all over Europe and all over Latin America.
Visitors to the website are greeted by a multi-color interactive Map. Like a treasure hunt, this Map—which can be further elaborated on and enhanced by users themselves—guides users to arbitral Awards hidden in court filings all over the world. Although Awards are usually confidential, when they are filed in courts in challenge or enforcement proceedings, in most jurisdictions they become publicly accessible. Users can “excavate” these hidden Awards and upload them to the site. Uploaded Awards, once verified, are automatically tracked on a digital “thermometer” and “odometer” on the site.
In addition to enhancing information available about international arbitration, contributors also have the chance to win great prizes donated by supporters, including some of the most coveted international arbitration books and research tools on the market.
As Wiker reflected on the project, “The Pilot is systemically designed around the core principles galvanizing Arbitrator Intelligence—collaboration, equality, transparency, professionalism, and creativity. Ultimately, Arbitrator Intelligence is a resource for the arbitration community built by the arbitration community.”
By promoting transparency and making sources of information about arbitrators more readily and equally available, Arbitrator Intelligence aims to increase arbitrator accountability, make the selection process more fair and predictable, and create better opportunities for new and diverse arbitrators. In the longer term, Arbitrator Intelligence will collect quantitative feedback from Parties and counsel about key features of arbitrator decision making. When fully developed, Arbitrator Intelligence will allow members to search accumulated information to aid in their arbitrator selection process.
“International arbitration is an area ripe for insights from quantitative and analytical tools,” said Zorn. “But gaining those insights requires systematic data, and the knowledge to visualize and analyze those data in useful ways. The Project marks the first effort to build a large-scale database for international arbitration, one that has the potential to fundamentally change and improve our understanding and the functioning of the arbitration process.”
Catherine Rogers is a professor of law at Penn State Law and Queen Mary University of London, where she also co-chairs, together with Stavros Brekoulakis, The Institute for Ethics and Regulation. The idea for Arbitrator Intelligence was first proposed by Professor Rogers in an article published in 2007, and has been further developed in subsequent scholarship and commentary, most recently her book, Ethics in International Arbitration (Oxford 2014). Overall, her work reflects her commitment to increasing transparency, fairness and professional integrity in international arbitration.
Christopher Zorn is the Liberal Arts Research Professor of Political Science, and Professor of Sociology and Crime, Law, and Justice (by courtesy), and Affiliate Professor of Law at Penn State. He is a co-founder and managing partner of Lawyer Metrics LLC. His academic work focuses on judicial politics and statistics for social and behavioral sciences; with Lawyer Metrics, he provides data-driven strategic advice to the legal services industry.
Alex Wiker is a Post-Grad in International Arbitration at Penn State Law and affiliated with Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. He specializes in alternative dispute resolution, and has experience with problem-solving and developing organizational methods that integrate stakeholder views in complex policy decision-making. Wiker is also a regular collaborator with Rogers on scholarly projects regarding international arbitration.
For additional details about how to use the site and the “Official Wish List” of its founders, see “Arbitrator Intelligence is Here.”