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A Fourth Arbitrator or an Administrative Secretary (Management Project)

Arbitral tribunals’ engagement of secretaries has for several years been the subject of debate and surveys show that the use of arbitral secretaries varies in practice. The Swedish Arbitration Act as well as the Arbitration Rules and Rules for Expedited Arbitrations issued by the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce do not regulate the appointment and authority of an arbitral secretary.

The requirements for the arbitrators’ appointment of a secretary and the extent of the secretary’s authority are, however, indirectly affected by general principles of law and provisions in the Swedish Arbitration Act.

Regarding the requirements for appointment of a secretary, it is asserted in this thesis that the arbitrators ought to obtain the parties’ consent to the appointment. However, it is unclear if there are any other requirements that the arbitrators must observe when appointing a secretary.

The limitations on the secretary’s authority mainly consist of agreements concluded by the parties and the provisions on challenge and invalidity of awards. Where the secretary has been appointed with the parties’ consent and the parties have not agreed on the secretary’s authority, the secretary is probably at least allowed to perform administrative tasks, but the arbitrators are not allowed to delegate their decision-making function or the duty to sign the award. However, the exact dividing line between proper and improper delegation cannot be established.

In the final discussion it is asserted that further guidance on the authority of the arbitral secretary would be beneficial. It is proposed that such guidance should be provided through guidelines issued by the SCC, which shall recommend the arbitrators to: obtain the parties’ consent to the appointment of the secretary; conclude an agreement with the parties which states the duties that the arbitrators are allowed to delegate to the secretary; be transparent with the parties on the secretary’s involvement in the arbitral proceedings; and refrain from delegating the tasks to sign the award and decide the dispute.
Source: Uppsala University
Authors: Andersson, Sofia

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