In its decision, 4A_709/2014, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (highest court in Switzerland) assessed the admissibility of special assistants to arbitral tribunals and, in this context, extensively relied on a previously published article of the authors entitled: "Arbitrator Consultants – Another Way to Deal with Technical or Commercial Challenges of Arbitrations". In the present paper, the authors analyze the reach and significance of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court’s landmark decision, and scrutinize its practical implications for the arbitration world. Thereby, the authors’ focus lies on technical and/or commercial consultants to arbitral tribunals and secretaries, which are common forms of assistants that arbitral tribunals may wish to employ.
The Swiss Federal Supreme Court confirmed in the decision the legality of arbitrator consultants as a form of assistance to arbitral tribunals if used within the specified boundaries. The authors conclude that this marks a milestone for such tool and one may hope that the decision will lead to an increased use of arbitrator consultants in the future. If deployed correctly, arbitrator consultants may be used to the benefit of parties and arbitral tribunals alike.