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Consensus Building on the Need for Arbitrator Intelligence

May 6, 2015

Although Arbitrator Intelligence is still very much in start-up phases, international arbitration users, practitioners, scholars, and even an outside watchdog group have identified it as an important development.  Recognizing the need for more accurate information about arbitrators and more modern ways to access that information, various sources have opined that AI could have a significant impact on important aspects of arbitrator selection.

Most recently, the Association of Corporate Counsel (representing interests of corporate counsel around the world) highlighted AI in its May newsletter as a potential remedy for corporate counsel’s common concerns about arbitrator quality and about their inability to make knowledgeable decisions about arbitrator selection.  Earlier, Bryant Garth commented on how AI might hold positive benefits to break existing market hierarchies and allow more diversity among arbitrators (discussed here).

Similarly, in their firm newsletter, Ben Giaretta and Michael Weatherley of Ashurst LLP reported in February 2015 that AI may  be a “valuable project in the future” as long as there is “enough buy-in from arbitration practitioners.”  Also, Professor Tom Stipanowich, in his research paper, Reflections on the State and Future of Commercial Arbitration: Challenges, Opportunities, Proposals, called Arbitrator Intelligence a new “opportunity” to implement what to date has been “considerable discussion (both internationally and within the U.S.)” about the need for more accurate assessment of arbitrator performance and increased transparency in the process of arbitrator selection (noted in an earlier post here).

These reports build on earlier comments made about Arbitrator Intelligence when it was still on the drawing boardFor example, writing for the watchdog group FreedomInfo, in May 2014 Toby McIntosh’s article discussed the potential of AI (under a previous name) to improve the ability of litigants, “particularly less well-heeled ones,” to participate effectively in international arbitration by improving information.  Similarly, in its report about award publication, the New York City Bar Committee on International Commercial Disputes identified Arbitrator Intelligence (again under an earlier name) as “an interesting attempt to counteract the bias inherent in publication of decisions determined by institutional selection or court filings, and to increase publicly available knowledge about arbitrators” (see post here).

Together, these commentaries demonstrate that, with increasing frequency, the international arbitration community recognizes the need to make arbitrator selection more transparent, more efficient, and more data-driven in order to promote fairness and accountability.  Here at AI, we are working toward these goals step-by-step.  Watch this space for updates on our continued efforts.