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Data on international arbitrations but a biased conclusion

A survey and report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers concisely explains (at 6-7) what it describes as the four most important advantages of international arbitration: flexibility of procedure (66 of the 103 online participants selected it), privacy (54 selected it), choice of arbitrators (49 respondents), and enforceability of awards (48).

The report then turns to the respondent’s most significant concerns regarding international arbitration. Expense was cited by 70 out of 80 respondents – perhaps some respondents did not complete this section. The time it takes to complete an arbitration came next (42 of the 80 chose it), followed by national court intervention, the lack of an appeals structure, and no mechanism for bringing in third parties.

Four reasons are given for choosing international arbitration; four disadvantages, while the survey did not ask the respondents to net the differences. That didn’t stop the authors from writing this pro-arbitration summary: “Corporations perceive that the distinct advantages outweigh the disadvantages associated with the use of international arbitration.”

Note that the advantages are “distinct” but the disadvantages are mere disadvantages (See my post of June 19, 2006 with criticisms of arbitration.). More troubling is the implication that the survey respondents compared the various pros and cons and came down decidedly in favor of international arbitration.

The evident prejudice may stem from the fact that PWC lists at the end of the report a person in each of 34 countries who is part of the firm’s “international arbitration network” and the firm conducted the study jointly with the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University (Univ. of London). Proponents of a cause find it difficult to be even-handed (See my posts of June 27, 2006 and references cited; Oct. 18, 2005 and bias by those who favor telecommuting; and Dec. 3, 2006 on selection bias generally.).

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