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Grounds to challenge an arbitral tribunal

The following rules identify the grounds to challenge an arbitral tribunal.
Article 12 of both the Model Law and the UNCITRAL Rules (read together) identify the following grounds to challenge an arbitral tribunal:

  1. where circumstances exist that give rise to justifiable doubts as to the impartiality or independence of an arbitrator
  2. the lack of suitable qualifications as agreed by the parties, or
  3. an arbitrator fails to act or in the event of the de jure or de facto impossibility of performing the function.

Article 13 of both the Model Law and the UNCITRAL Rules set out the procedure for challenging an arbitrator:

The procedure may be agreed between the parties (for instance, if the parties choose to apply the UNICTRAL Rules, then the relevant provisions under the rules will apply),


If no procedure has been agreed, then within 15 days of a party becoming aware of reasons that give rise to a challenge, the party must send a send a written statement of the reasons for the challenge to all the parties, the arbitrator (the subject of the challenge) and to the other arbitrators.

If all the parties agree and the arbitrator who is the subject of the challenge withdraws, then that is the end of the matter; however, if that does not occur, the arbitral tribunal (under the Model Law) must consider the matter. If the arbitral tribunal rules against the challenge, then the party who initiated it may, within 30 days, submit a request to a court or other body (this will depend on the applicable national law) to decide the issue. That decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Where the arbitrator withdraws or the appointment is revoked, a substitute arbitrator shall be appointed according to the rules that were applicable to the appointment of the arbitrator being replaced.

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International Arbitration: Process and Procedure

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