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Ad-hoc Arbitrations and Selecting the Umpire - What are your thoughts?

In an ad-hoc arbitration, where each party names a wing arbitrator and the two wings are supposed to name an umpire, what procedural methodology for the selection of the umpire have you found to be the most effective?

Comments (5)

William G. Bassler:

In my experience the wing arbitrators exchange names of the proposed chair. Often one of the wing arbitrators will have known or have worked with the chair before. Then the other wing arbitrator checks our the qualifications of the proposed arbitrators.Once they decide then they together
reach out to the proposed chair.

In my experience and in most cases the arbitration clause does provide a process for the selection of an umpire in an ad-hoc arbitration. when this is the case then the arbitrators follow the process and in almost every case choose an umpire in a reasonable amount of time. In other instances, the arbitration clause leaves the entire process to the party appointed arbitrators. One process I found to be effective is for each arbitrator to nominate 3 or five names from which the other would strike two or four names and one of the remaining two candidates would be chosen by drawing lots. On occasion we have used the DJIA for the final pick with one arbitrator choosing the odd number after the decimal and the other the even number. This is just another way to choose an umpire. In the past I have had telephone conversations with my counterpart during which we discussed names and preferences and ended the call with the selection right there and then. This happens less these days as the attorneys and the parties have tried to get more involved in the process which have often resulted delays . The umpire should always be impartial and his or her integrity beyond reproach. The process can be smooth and efficient when used the way it was intended to be used.


In my experience, the wing arbitrators proposed chairs, agreed on a list to interview with relevant questions and based on those interviews arrived at a consensus Chair .

In addition to the method described by Judge Bassler, I have been involved in situations in which the two wings could not reach agreement. They then requested a list from an arbitrator provider organization and the Chair was chosen from that list, either by agreement or strike and rank.

Al Appel

I have been chosen as lead arbitrator several times, but have never had to participate with my co-wing arbitrator to select the lead arbitrator by consent. As co-chair and chair at various times of the NYS Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics for the last consecutive 23 years(and member for the previous 9 years)I would do my due diligence to make sure the lead arbitrator selected jointly with my co-wing arbitrator was well qualified. I would see his/her resume, read any of his/her writings, check for any disciplinary records, and call as many people who know him/her well enough to make me comfortable agreeing to the selected person. I would want an ethical, competent, impartial, patient, intelligent, and learned person in whom I had confidence to be fair and learned. That is surely what the lawyers and parties expect of a lead arbitrator.
Justice George D. Marlow (Ret.)

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