Eyes Wide Open: The Quest for Arbitrator Impartiality in the Wake of Halliburton
On November 27, 2020, the day after Thanksgiving was celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision in Halliburton Company v. Chubb Bermuda Insurance Ltd., a decision that has been characterized as bringing clarity to an arbitrator’s duty of disclosure where the arbitrator has received multiple appointments by the same party in different arbitrations involving the same subject matter. From the policyholder’s perspective, however, the decision brought neither clarity nor a reassuring result.
Here are the facts:
This matter concerned an arbitrator well known in the London insurance coverage arena, Kenneth Rokison QC. The case arose out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which spawned (at least) three separate insurance coverage arbitrations.
Arbitration 1 was between Halliburton and Chubb. Halliburton had settled the claims against it and sought coverage from Chubb under the Bermuda Form policy that it had sold to Halliburton. Chubb denied the claim on the premise that the settlement was not reasonable. Mr. Rokison was appointed by the English High Court to chair that panel.
Arbitration 2 was between Transocean and Chubb. Transocean was the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. It also had settled the claims against it and Chubb also rejected its claim for coverage. Chubb appointed Mr. Rokison to that arbitration.
Arbitration 3 was been Transocean and another insurer. That insurer also appointed Mr. Rokison to that panel.
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