Appointing a Sole Arbitrator A Comprehensive Guide

how to appoint sole arbitrator


Arbitration has become an increasingly popular method for resolving disputes outside of traditional court systems. When parties opt for arbitration, one crucial decision they must make is appointing an arbitrator. In certain cases, the appointment of a sole arbitrator is preferred. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to appoint a sole arbitrator, highlighting the key considerations and procedures involved.

Understanding Sole Arbitration 

Sole arbitration refers to a situation where a single arbitrator, rather than a panel, is entrusted with the responsibility of adjudicating a dispute. Selecting the right arbitrator is crucial, as they will have a significant impact on the outcome of the arbitration process. The process of appointing a sole arbitrator involves careful consideration and adherence to established procedures.

Agreement and Rules 

The appointment of a sole arbitrator begins with an agreement between the disputing parties. The arbitration agreement should specify the method of appointment, the qualifications required, and any particular preferences regarding the arbitrator. Additionally, parties may choose to adopt established institutional rules, such as those provided by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the American Arbitration Association (AAA), or other recognized arbitration institutions.

Identification and Selection 

The next step is identifying potential candidates for the role of sole arbitrator. This can be done through various means, such as researching qualified professionals, seeking recommendations, or utilizing the resources provided by arbitration institutions. Factors to consider when selecting an arbitrator include their expertise in the subject matter of the dispute, previous experience, reputation for impartiality, and availability to commit to the arbitration process.

Appointment Process 

The appointment process typically involves sending a written request to the selected arbitrator, detailing the nature of the dispute, the parties involved, and the desired qualifications. In some cases, arbitration rules may require the assistance of a nominating institution or appointing authority to facilitate the appointment. The arbitrator, upon acceptance of the appointment, should disclose any potential conflicts of interest that could affect their impartiality or independence.

Challenge and Replacement

If a party believes that an arbitrator lacks the necessary qualifications, is biased, or has a conflict of interest, they may challenge the appointment. The specific procedure for challenging an arbitrator can vary depending on the applicable rules and jurisdiction. In such cases, the appointing authority or a designated judicial body will review the challenge and decide whether to replace the arbitrator.


Does the arbitrator ask questions?

If a party presents a witness at the hearing, that party will have the opportunity to ask questions of the witness. The other party will then have the opportunity to cross-examine that witness and ask their own questions; the arbitrator may also ask questions of the witness.

Can arbitrators give punishment?

Section 27(5) of arbitration and conciliation act, 1996 provides the arbitral tribunal to punish for its contempt, of which the courts failed to take notice.

Who will pay the fees of the arbitrator?

In the preliminary hearings, if all the parties and the arbitrator jointly agree to a revised fee, then that fee would be payable to the arbitrator. However, in case of any disagreement, the arbitrator or in case where more than one arbitrator is there, one of the members of the tribunal may decline the assignment.


Appointing a sole arbitrator is a critical step in the arbitration process, ensuring a fair and impartial resolution of disputes. By carefully considering the requirements of the agreement, conducting a thorough selection process, and adhering to established procedures, parties can enhance the chances of a successful arbitration outcome. It is essential to prioritize the selection of an arbitrator with relevant expertise and a reputation for fairness. Maintaining transparency throughout the appointment process is crucial to uphold the integrity of the arbitration proceedings.

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