Authors: Joint Report of the International Commercial Disputes Committee and the Committee on Arbitration of the New York City Bar Association
Published: December 2008
Institutional and Administered Arbitration
International Institutions and Rules
It is common practice for international arbitration tribunals to appoint secretaries, in most instances with the consent of all parties to the arbitration, to facilitate the smooth and efficient functioning of large and complex arbitrations. Based on inquiries to international arbitral institutions, arbitrators and counsel, we found that the nature and degree of assistance provided by arbitral secretaries varies. We also noted that there are differing levels of expertise and experience among secretaries. Arbitrators, who must review voluminous submissions, are often well served by an arbitral secretary, the primary purpose of whom is intended to provide help in organizing the proceedings. As discussed below, however, secretaries to arbitration tribunals not uncommonly play more substantive roles in the arbitral proceedings, which has given rise to debate. In this Joint Committee Report, the International Commercial Disputes Committee and the Committee on Arbitration of the New York City Bar Association address uses (and abuses) of tribunal-appointed secretaries in international arbitration.1 We examine the responsibilities of arbitral secretaries, which range from performing clerical tasks (such as organizing files and handling correspondence) to serving effectively as a law clerk with duties including legal research, document review, analysis of the parties’ submissions and even the drafting of awards.