Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


John Y. Gotanda

First Page



This Article examines the compensation policies of international arbitrators. Specifically, the Article details the results of a survey of individuals who practice in the area of international arbitration.

Initially, the Article describes the different methods of calculating the fees of the arbitral tribunal, discussing the relative advantages and disadvantages of each method. The study concludes that most arbitrators calculate their fees using a time-based method, except when the arbitral institution requires that their fees be determined under the ad valorem method.

Next, the Article examines arbitrators' policies regarding cancellation and commitment fees. Survey results highlighted confusion about whether arbitrators were prohibited by a jurisdiction's laws or ethical rules. In addition, many commentators debate the propriety of such fees. The survey results reveal that most arbitrators do not charge cancellation or commitment fees. While practitioners in certain jurisdictions more routinely charge these fees, charging such fees is not widespread in continental Europe or the United States.

The Article then addresses the implications for U.S. arbitrators who are considering the adoption of cancellation and commitment fees. Although most arbitral institutions do not explicitly permit such fees, institutional guidelines are broad enough to allow for such fees. Furthermore, because arbitrators are not fiduciaries in the same manner as lawyers who are employed by clients, the policy behind the ban on nonrefundable special retainers would not be served by applying it to prohibit arbitrators from charging cancellation or commitment fees. Finally, the Article argues that none of the rules or codes governing the conduct of arbitrators in international arbitrations expressly prohibit the payment of cancellation or commitment fees. As a result, if such fees are reasonable, the Author contends that they should be permissible.