ARI v WXJ [2022] EWHC 1543 (Comm) | ZFZ Postcard Cases

Under the terms of a bareboat charterparty, the party referring a dispute to arbitration was required to appoint an arbitrator and to notify the other party of the appointment in writing

The other party was required to appoint its own arbitrator within 14 days of notification. Absent such appointment, the referring party was entitled to appoint its own arbitrator as sole arbitrator.

The claimant appointed an arbitrator (“G”) on 22 December 2021. The defendant emailed an arbitrator (“J”) on 3 January 2022 to enquire as to their availability. J replied, stating that he was available “subject to conflicts”. On 4 January, J confirmed that he was free from conflicts. On 5 January, the defendant notified the claimant that it had appointed J.

However, J subsequently informed the defendant that he would be unable to act due to the rate of payment available. The claimant then sought to appoint G as sole arbitrator.

Foxton J held that J had been validly appointed. The usual requirements of contract formation need not be satisfied for an arbitrator to be appointed. The key question is whether there is a clear and unconditional acceptance of (or willingness to accept) appointment by the arbitrator, which is then communicated to the other party.

For further details, reach out to Isabelle Winstanley or check out our Case by Case podcast episode we’ve done on this on Spotify or on Apple Podcasts.

For the full decision, click here.