Sandeep Suresh is a fifth-year law student at the National Law University in Jodhpur, India.
Justice Robert H. Jackson stated in the case of Shaughnessy v. Mezei (1953) that “Procedural fairness and regularity are the indispensable essence of liberty.”  Jackson’s commentary captures the great significance of procedural fairness and natural justice. In particular, the impartiality and integrity of arbitrators, although ostensibly simple characteristics, are integral features of arbitration. The right to challenge an arbitrator who does not demonstrate those features, therefore, is essential in assuring the client’s confidence if he or she chooses arbitration as the means of resolving the dispute. The UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (Model Law) recognizes this right.  However, what is the result if the challenge procedure itself is unfair and against the principles of natural justice?
Article 13 of the Model Law lays down the challenge procedure.  The controversial part of the provision is found in Article 13(2):
Failing such agreement, a party who intends to challenge an arbitrator shall, within fifteen days after
becoming aware of the constitution of the arbitral tribunal or after becoming aware of any circumstance
referred to in article 12(2), send a written statement of the reasons for the challenge to the arbitral tribunal.
Unless the challenged arbitrator withdraws from his office or the other party agrees to the challenge, the
arbitral tribunal shall decide on the challenge.