Blind Appointments in Arbitration

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Arbitration tribunals typically consist of an arbitrator appointed by each party and a third, who acts as the chair, appointed by an independent authority. While arbitrators are supposed to be neutral and exercise independent judgment, practitioners concur that party-appointed arbitrators often lean in favor of the nominating party. Concerns over this lack of impartiality sparked a proposal to “blind appointments” as a mechanism against the “affiliation bias.” In this chapter, I explore the causes, potential consequences, and implementation challenges of this proposal. First, using data from the World Bank's investor-state arbitration proceedings, I explore the potential effect of this appointing system in causing affiliation bias. Second, I argue that compared to other alternatives, blinding appointments is a promising bias-reducing intervention that maintains the observed benefits of parties' participating in the tribunal's formation. Third, I explain how blind appointments may have limits as to their corrective effects and elaborate on the most obvious practical problems with its implementation. At a more general level, this chapter illustrates the need for more research to move forward an important discussion in a growing legal field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBlinding as a Solution to Bias
Subtitle of host publicationStrengthening Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Law
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780128024607
ISBN (Print)9780128026335
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Blinding party appointments
  • Blinding private justice
  • Subconscious influence in arbitration
  • Unilateral party appointments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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