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The Usual Suspects Project:
Deciphering Decision-Making in Arbitrator Selection

How do parties pick arbitrators?

Parties’ power to select an arbitrator is one of international arbitration’s unique selling points. To date, however, there has been no rigorous examination of the decision-making process behind the selection of party-appointed arbitrators – or how important considerations such as diversity feed into that process. 

Launched by Cortex Capital in partnership with the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), this ground-breaking research collaboration seeks systematically to unlock the black box of party appointments, with vital input from arbitration players focusing on Hong Kong as well as the wider global arbitration community.

Dr Ula Cartwright-Finch, project lead and Managing Director of Cortex Capital, says: “Picking arbitrators is a seriously spicy topic. It goes to the heart of arbitration as a process: efficacy, legitimacy, enforceability - everything. But how parties do it is such a mystery. Unpacking the decision-making process will be fascinating in its own right but it’s also an essential one if we’re serious about de-biasing those decisions.”


Mariel Dimsey, Secretary General of the HKIAC, says: “HKIAC is proud to be supporting the Usual Suspects survey being conducted by Cortex Capital. Applying a rigorous, scientific approach to arbitrator selection is a critical aspect to consider in the arbitrator selection process and important to dynamic diversification of arbitral tribunals.”

To chart current decision-making processes in the selection of party-appointed arbitrators

To draw up suggested changes to future practice to help diversify arbitral tribunals

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​We are gathering initial data on this question via a series of semi-structured interviews with legal counsel from various firms located in Hong Kong

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Interview Study

Survey Study

Online Survey

We have launched a new online survey measuring broader trends in decision-making processes from a large sample of respondents.


Take Part

Our survey contains simple questions on arbitrator selection and should take no more than 5 minutes to complete.

Access our survey here or via the QR code above.

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We are grateful to the following organisations for sponsoring and supporting this exciting new project:

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