Cultural Neutrality: A Prerequisite to Arbitral Justice

In common parlance, neutrality is often equated with impartiality. Any such assimilation, however, would be incorrect, since neutrality and impartiality are intrinsically different. At the risk of oversimplification, neutrality may be defined as an objective status, i.e. the likelihood that the arbitrator will be, and remain, wholly equidistant in thought and action throughout the arbitral proceedings. Impartiality, on the contrary, partakes more of a subjective status, to be tested in the context of the concrete relations existing between the arbitrator(s) and each individual party. It follows that one can be impartial without being neutral; and conversely, that no arbitrator may be deemed neutral if he/she is behaving partially.