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An arbitral tribunal or arbitration tribunal, arbitration commission, arbitration committee or arbitration council is a panel of impartial adjudicators who are convened and sits to resolve a dispute through arbitration.

If you have entered into an arbitration agreement which provides you with the right to arbitrate a dispute, you may need to attend an arbitral tribunal.

An arbitral tribunal is a panel of one or more arbitrators assembled and sits to resolve a dispute through arbitration. 

The tribunal may consist of a sole arbitrator, or there may be two or more arbitrators, including a chairperson or an umpire.


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What are the duties of an arbitral tribunal under the Arbitration Act 1996?

Section 33(1) of the Arbitration Act 1996 states an arbitral tribunal must:

  • Act fairly and impartially as between the parties, giving each party a reasonable opportunity of putting his case and dealing with that of his opponent
  • Adopt procedures suitable to the circumstances of the particular case. Avoid unnecessary delay or expense to provide a fair means for the resolution of the matters falling to be determined

Can an arbitral tribunal order the production of confidential documents?

A dispute can develop concerning the disclosure of confidential documents in arbitration proceedings. In that case, the arbitral tribunal will first look to the arbitration agreement to see what the parties agree, or might not agree, on should such a dispute erupt.

The parties will often agree to follow the arbitration rules of a trade body or an international arbitration institution. Examples are the ICC Rules of Arbitration and the LCIA Arbitration Rules 2014, and both institutions give arbitral tribunals broad discretion when ordering the document production request.

How is arbitration different from a tribunal?

One arbitrator typically conducts arbitrations or a panel (three arbitrators), referred to in each case as the “tribunal”. The tribunal is the equivalent of a judge (or panel of judges) in a court action.

Can an arbitral award be enforced overseas?

Yes, it can.

One of the main advantages of the arbitration process is that thanks to the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention), it can be enforced in signatory countries. This includes the United States, China and India, to mention but a few. 

What if an arbitrator does not agree with the tribunal's ward?

It can be complicated to challenge an arbitrator’s award. The courts in England and Wales will generally uphold any decision made by an arbitral tribunal.

You should not enter into an arbitration agreement unless you are prepared to accept any award made as final and binding.

International arbitration tribunal 

The international arbitration tribunal is the independent and non-governmental panel of independent and impartial experts. 

The international arbitration tribunal is often composed of three members nominated by the Parties (or appointed by the international arbitration institution). Their assignment is based on their legal and practical expertise and knowledge to render a final and binding award.

All members of an international arbitration tribunal must be impartial and independent of the Parties to the dispute. 

Composition of an arbitral tribunal

The composition of the arbitral tribunal is described in Chapter III of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996

The provisions mentioned in this chapter are discussed below:

  • The number of arbitrators
  • Their appointment
  • Power of the Central Government to amend the schedule
  • Grounds on which the appointment of the arbitrator can be challenged
  • Procedure to challenge the appointment
  • Failure or impossibility on the part of the arbitrator to act
  • Termination of the mandate and substitution of the arbitrator

Also, the number of arbitrators should be odd and not even, and it helps determine the majority of the tribunal and avoids any discrepancy.

Arbitral tribunals are usually constituted in two types of proceedings:

  • Ad hoc proceedings: The arbitrators are appointed by the parties without a supervising institution. This relies on the rules that have been agreed upon by the parties and or procedural law and courts to resolve any differences 
  • Institutional arbitration proceedings: The arbitrators are appointed under the supervision of professional bodies providing arbitration services, such as the American Arbitration Association, the ICDR in New York, the Australian Fair Work Commission, the LCIA in London or the ICC in Paris.

What are the powers of the Arbitral Tribunal?

  • The arbitrator has the power to administer an oath to the parties. The arbitrator must act as a quasi-judicial authority
  • Power to take interim measures
  • According to section 25, an arbitrator has the power to proceed to ex-parte
  • Power to appoint an expert
  • Power to make awards

Get legal assistance from LawBite

At LawBite, our solicitors have many years of experience advising and representing clients in commercial arbitration, mediation and disputes. To speak to one of our expert dispute lawyers, book a free 15 minute consultation or call us on 020 3808 8314.


Additional resources

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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