Screened Selection Offers Best of Both Worlds

We at the CPR Institute are still abuzz over our receipt, earlier this month, of Global Arbitration Review’s (GAR’s) Innovation Award 2016 for our unique Screened Selection Process, which allows parties to select arbitrators without revealing to the neutral which party selected them. We are pleased and proud that our efforts to improve the arbitration process have received the recognition of the ADR community.

What’s so special about the screened selection option, one of many that CPR offers in its Rules? In a recent article published in Law360, CPR’s Olivier Andre and Charles B. Rosenberg of White & Case discuss how the process avoids the “moral hazard” of party-appointed arbitrators who may subtly favor the party that chose them.

How does it work exactly, when this option is selected? CPR carefully vets a list of neutrals based upon the qualifications that the parties require, conflicts, schedules and fees. The parties rank them by preference and include any objections to specific candidates without the neutrals’ knowledge. CPR then uses these rankings and objections to assign each side’s highest ranked neutral and the individual with the highest combined ranking is chosen as Chair. Then the case proceeds using CPR Rules.

Further detail about this Screened Selection Process can be found in the commentary to Rule 5.4:

Rule 5.4 presents a unique “screened” procedure for constituting a three-member Tribunal, two of whom are designated by the parties without knowing which party designated each of them. The procedure is intended to offer the benefits, while avoiding some of the drawbacks, of having party-appointed arbitrators. On the one hand, parties are able to designate arbitrators whom they consider to be well-qualified to sit on the Tribunal. On the other hand, any tendency (subtle or otherwise) of party-appointed arbitrators to favor or advocate the position of the parties who appointed them is avoided because those arbitrators are approached and appointed by CPR rather than the parties and are not told which party designated each of them. The Rules governing ex parte communications (Rule 7.4), challenges (Rule 7.6), and resignations (Rule 7.9) contain specific provisions designed to preserve the “screen” for the party-designated arbitrators under Rule 5.4 throughout the arbitration. The parties may choose the “screened” selection procedure in their pre-dispute arbitration clause (see standard pre-dispute clause), or agree to the screened procedure once a dispute arises.

CPR recognizes that, as a practical matter, some party-designated arbitrators selected pursuant to Rule 5.4 may deduce or learn which parties designated them – i.e., the “screen” may not, in all instances, be perfect. CPR nevertheless believes that the screened procedure is worthy of consideration by parties as a means to enhance the integrity of arbitrations involving party-appointed arbitrators. Any party-designated arbitrator who does, in fact, learn which party appointed him or her should disclose that fact to each of the parties and the other members of the Tribunal in order to ensure a level playing field. In the event an arbitrator discovers who appointed him or her, such knowledge would not be a basis for disqualification or challenge per se, and the arbitration can continue uninterrupted on a non-screened basis.

The Screened Selection Process is just one of the many tools CPR makes available to its users to customize an arbitration process that works best for the parties involved. If you have any questions about the Screened Selection Process or any other aspect of CPR’s rules, please contact Helena Erickson at herickson@cpradr.org.

Interview: Users Respond to CPR’s New International Rules – Most surprising and valued reported features

InternationalRulesSlimJimCPR recently launched a new set of Rules for Administered Arbitration of International Disputes for use in cross-border business transactions. These new Rules reflect best practices, including the arbitration work of UNCITRAL, and address current issues in international arbitration, such as arbitrator impartiality, lengthy time frames to reach resolution, burdensome and unpredictable administrative costs and requirements. To celebrate their release, and introduce them across the globe, CPR held a series of well-attended launch events in London, Paris, Miami, Geneva, Madrid, Brazil and Washington, DC.

CPR’s newest event takes a deeper dive into one of the Rules’ most buzzed-about aspects, the Screened Selection Process for Party-Appointed Arbitrators ™. Responding to the need to both preserve the right of the parties to appoint their arbitrators and guarantee the fairness and impartiality of arbitration, the Screened Selection Process ™ is available under the new CPR Arbitration Rules, and will be discussed from the perspectives of the users, outside counsel and arbitrators on July 30, 2015 at Jenner & Block in Chicago and via live webcast.

Olivier P. AndreToday, we sat down with CPR’s Olivier André, Vice President, International and Dispute Resolution Services, for a recap of the launch events and a preview into our upcoming event.

To begin, could you provide a quick recap of CPR’s recent launch events celebrating the new rules? 

Over the past few months, we have organized eight events to celebrate the launch of the new CPR Rules for Administered Arbitration of International Disputes.  At each of these events, panelists discussed the key benefits and innovations of the rules from different perspectives – the corporate counsel, arbitration practitioner, arbitrator, and institutional perspectives.   The events were well attended and, whether they were held in the US, Europe or Brazil, they triggered a lot of interest.

What were some of the most memorable responses you received about the rules, either at the launch events or otherwise. What are people most surprised about, thrilled about, etc.?  

The new rules triggered a lot of interest because attendees felt that they really address many of the criticisms we currently hear about arbitration, such as high costs, lengthy timeframes, and bureaucratic administration of the proceedings.   With the new rules, CPR provides only the services that are necessary from an administering institution, and no more.  Thus, CPR gets involved at the very beginning – at the commencement and arbitrator appointment stages – and at the end – to provide a “light” review of the awards and to issue them.

In between, CPR handles all billing aspects, but lets the tribunal interface directly with the parties on all other matters.  All pleadings and filings to CPR are in electronic format only.  As a result of this “lean administration,” CPR is able to offer a very competitive schedule of administrative costs.  Administrative costs are capped at US$34,000 for disputes over US$500 million.   At a time when all companies are trying to contain the costs of dispute resolution – and where smaller companies simply cannot afford an expensive dispute resolution process – that was particularly appealing.

Another feature which triggered a lot interest is the provision under the rules for the issuing of the award within 12 months of the constitution of the tribunal.  Very often, users of arbitration have had terrible experiences of proceedings that lasted longer than court proceedings, when arbitration is supposed to offer a fast dispute resolution process.  The CPR rules require all actors of an arbitration to use their best efforts to comply with this time requirement.  Any scheduling order or extension from the tribunal that would result in extending this timeline must be approved by CPR.  Such extension requests are not new, but what was interesting to the attendees of these events was the fact that these approvals are not automatic.  Whenever such an approval is requested, CPR can convene all involved in the arbitration to discuss the factors that have led to the extension request.  This mechanism increases the accountability of all actors of the arbitral process while asking them to comply with a reasonable timeframe.   I say reasonable because historically the average length of CPR cases is a little over 11 months.

Finally, there was a lot of interest – particularly from the corporate counsel – for the provision in the rules which encourages the arbitral tribunal to propose settlement and assist the parties in initiating mediation at any stage of the arbitration proceedings.

CPR’s event in Chicago delves deeper into one of the most unique and valued features of the rules—the screened selection process. What were the challenges that necessitated this specific Rules feature? How did we address those challenges? What have responses from users of the new rules been like on this point in particular?  

Arbitrator selection is a key phase of any arbitration and getting qualified arbitrators appointed for a particular dispute is critical to ensure smooth proceedings.  The ability for the parties to choose their decision makers is also one of the main advantages of arbitration.  The CPR rules offer many options that arbitration users can choose from in their arbitration clause depending on the specific nature of the disputes they anticipate.  The bottom line is that they have the ability – and are encouraged – to really control the arbitrator selection process.

One of the options provided is called the CPR Screened Selection Process ™ for party-appointed arbitrators.  That process – which is unique to CPR arbitration rules – enables each party to choose their “party-appointed” arbitrators without them knowing which party has designated them.  CPR acts as a screen between the parties and their candidates.  This is an interesting process because, even though all arbitrators under CPR Rules must be impartial and independent, there can be some degree of ambiguity around the role that a party-appointed arbitrator is supposed to play.  This selection offers the parties the ability to choose their arbitrators while, at the same time, removing that ambiguity and changing the working dynamics among the members of a tribunal.

Olivier André is CPR’s Vice President, International and Dispute Resolution Services. In this capacity, Mr. André is responsible for CPR’s international activities, as well as international arbitration and mediation matters which are brought before CPR pursuant to its rules. He can be reached at oandre@cpradr.org. For Mr. André’s full bio, click here.