CAN A LAWYER BE AN ARBITRATOR WHERE THE REQUIREMENT IS FOR “EXPERIENCE OF INSURANCE OR REINSURANCE”?

In Allianz Insurance and Sirius International Insurance Corporation v Tonicstar Limited [2018] EWCA Civ 434, the Court of Appeal has reversed the decision of the High Court on whether a party-appointed arbitrator met the contractual requirements as to requisite experience. The dispute arose under a reinsurance contract that incorporated the “Excess Loss Clauses” of the Joint Excess Loss Committee. The arbitration clause required the arbitrators to have “experience of insurance and reinsurance”. The Court of Appeal held that that an English QC with experience of insurance and reinsurance law was sufficient to comply with this requirement.

This decision is of particular interest as such challenges to arbitrators rarely come before the courts. It highlights the importance of drafting arbitration clauses clearly, particularly where parties require their arbitrators to possess certain qualifications or experience. If insurance parties want a tribunal convened of one or more market practitioners, as opposed to lawyers with sector experience, this should be clearly expressed.

For more on this decision, see our arbitration team’s blog post here.

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