Arbitration

Arbitrator does not need to disclose facts about his religion and family background where such facts were entirely irrelevant to case. Herbert Rebmann v. Peter Rohde, (No. G043665 California Court of Appeal, June 28, 2011).

Defendants sought to overturn an arbitration award based upon the religious family background of the arbitrator.  Defendant learned following his unsuccessful arbitration that the arbitrator’s parents were German/Jewish escapees who lost family and property in the Holocaust.  The defendant’s father served in German during World War II and his wife’s father was in the SS.  The arbitrator’s family background and religion was not disclosed prior to the arbitration.  The defendant asserted that the arbitrator should have disclosed his religious and cultural affiliations.  The trial court confirmed the award and denied the petition to vacate the arbitration award.

 

The appeals court
affirmed.  Under Code of Civil
Procedure
Section 1281.9, an arbitrator must disclose all matters that
could cause a person to reasonably entertain a doubt that the proposed
arbitrator would be able to be impartial.
If the arbitrator’s family and background could cause a reasonable
person to entertain a doubt as to his ability to be impartial, vacation of the
arbitration award is required.  This
court found that there was nothing in the arbitrator’s professional record that
indicated bias toward anyone and that the defendant merely relied on the arbitrator’s
family history, rather than anything he said or did with regard to his
petition.  Further, the appeals court
held that the arbitrator’s background was entirely irrelevant to the case
before him.  The defendant’s history was
unknown to the arbitrator at the time of the arbitration.  Hence, the defendant’s argument was without
merit.

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