INBAVIJAYAN VEERARAGHAVAN AND SAMEENA SYED
Over the years in the world of legal practice, Arbitration has seen a booming growth not just because of its cornerstones such as party autonomy, confidentiality, and neutrality but also because of its flexibility and effectiveness outside the traditional mechanisms of dispute resolution via courts. In today’s circumstances, most often times than the other, parties and their counsels choose arbitration whenever possible to attain an amicable resolution, and even the domestic courts’ moots for acceptance of resolving disputes in an alternative mechanism vis-à-vis arbitration and mediation.
Given its vitality and nuances, Arbitration has been used as an effective mechanism in various sectors i.e Banking, IP disputes, maritime, investments, agriculture, sports etc.As much as it fanned out its wings in the international arena, it has also seen an outgrowing reach with the domestic realm owing to a number of factors that dates back to the cornerstones and well-indulged flavors of institutional arbitration.
As disputes submitted to arbitration by way of arbitration agreements have increased, Appointments have also seen an overwhelming trend wherein legal practitioners and experts in various fields have been constantly appointed as arbitrators for dispute resolution.
When the legal community along with parties are moving towards such a contemporary form of dispute resolution in domestic practice, we observed that arbitrators vis-à-vis adjudicators appointed by the parties by way of party autonomy guided by the principles of Lex-arbitri and institutional rules (if any applicable) are addressed as “your lordship/ My lords / your honour”
This captures our attention in various ways and brings two vital questions forward;
a. Is this the correct way to address an arbitrator?
b. If this is not the correct way, what is the accepted norm to address an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators?
Now looking deeply into the first question at hand, a very simple as well a straightforward answer shall be, NO as arbitrators are judge-like figures in practice and not the actual judges of the court to whom such honorable titles are conferred by the law or state. In such cases, Indeed arbitrators cannot be referred to as your lordship/ My lords / your honour.
However, we do observe a cultivating trend both in theory and practice that either sitting or retired judges are being appointed as arbitrators. In those cases, even though the titles may have been conferred by the state or by law, the arbitration setting is completely different than the court, which adheres to different conduct than the courts. Thus, it is humbly advised to address the arbitrators in the correct manner than the traditional manner.
Both in international practice and domestic practice, the correct way of addressing the arbitrator(s) is as follows
1. Arbitrator – Mr. Arbitrator / Madam arbitrator / However they prefer (Please always ask pronounces too before addressing)
2. Tribunal member
Hailing from a common law jurisdiction, as awkward as it may sound to address a dispute adjudicator who also dwells into the position of law and propounds decisions in a simple manner, is the correct and universal way of addressing an arbitrator during an arbitration proceeding.
Thus, we strongly encourage and humbly advise all practitioners to address the arbitrators in a more acceptable norm.