Supreme Court Decides Arbitrators are not Employees under English Law

July 29, 2011

Earlier this year in the UK, the lower court decided that clauses might be unlawful which require arbitrators to have certain characteristics (e.g. religion or nationality). The lower courts found that the appointment of an arbitrator was a contract of employment under English law, that the parties appointing arbitrators were therefore “employers”, and that any requirement for arbitrators to be a particular nationality or religion was therefore discriminatory under English equality laws.

The Supreme Court’s decisions based its decision on the legal distinction between “(i) people providing services for another person in return for payment and (ii) independent providers of services” finding that arbitrators fell into the second category. Arbitrators could not be fair and impartial if their relationship with the parties was one of employer-employee. The country has breathed a sigh of relief with the July 27 decision which now brings UK law in line with the rest of Europe.

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