Unsuccessful application to remove Bermuda Form arbitrator for alleged appearance of bias

In H v L [2017] EWHC 137 (Comm), Mr Justice Popplewell of the Commercial Court of the High Court of England and Wales has dismissed an application (made by a US policyholder) for removal of an arbitrator in a Bermuda Form international insurance arbitration, on the basis of allegations of an appearance of bias arising out of his conduct during the arbitration (particularly with respect to his handling of certain procedural complaints by the US policyholder about his involvement in other arbitrations involving similar subject matter and the extent to which he had disclosed his interests).

The application appears to have been somewhat speculative (as a matter of English law, at least) taking into account the Court’s reaction to it, the fact that the arbitrator had been appointed by the Court itself, and the Court’s description of the arbitrator as follows:

M is a well-known and highly respected international arbitrator. He has extensive experience of insurance and reinsurance law, both English and New York law. He has extensive experience of both domestic and international arbitrations governed by the Act and of arbitral procedural law, practices and procedures. He has sat as a member of an arbitration tribunal in over thirty references concerning the Bermuda Form over many years. He enjoys a reputation as an international arbitrator of the highest quality and integrity“.

If nothing else, the body of case law on the Bermuda Form continues to grow.


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