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The Training Course for Case Managers and Arbitrators

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Lesson 7b - Selection of an Arbitrator

As the initial Case Manager of a case it is your job to select an Arbitrator.

At the time of this writing, this usually consists of writing a mail to the Arbitration mailing list and hoping than someone will answer. Or you may select yourself, if someone else is only available as Case Manager.

Just in case that there should be a choice of available Arbitrators, you should consider the following topics before selecting one of them. Of course all these topics are equally important if you consider acting as Arbitrator yourself!

Potential Conflicts of Interest

Since Arbitrators are usually not only Arbitrators, is is possible that they may have a conflict of interest ("CoI") which could advise against someone serving as Arbitrator for a specific case.

As an example, if the case is a complaint about the software team for not adhering to their procedures, it is not advisable to select an Arbitrator which a strong connection to the software team, for example as a major contributor or a Software Assessor.

Also, personal connections with one of the parties, if they are known to you, are a disadvantage.

Sadly enough, CAcert does not have enough personnel to strictly avoid every possible CoI. There are obvious cases which prevent an Arbitrator to serve in a case, like when she is directly involved in the complaint. But most potential CoI are judgement cases, and sometimes it is not possible to find someone completely unbiased.

In such cases, CoI should be declared in the case documentation. If you have the choice, select someone with no (or at least lesser) involvement in the case.


As a Case Manager you usually have an idea whether a case will be a difficult or a simple one. Of course your won't always be correct in retrospect, but hey, that's life.

If you identify a case as a difficult one, it's probably not a good idea to assign it to an Arbitrator who is newly appointed or has handled only very few cases yet. There may also be Arbitrators who specialize on a specific topic. Arbitrators who have been idle for a long time may not be ideal for cases which refer recent changes in policies. On the other hand, they may be a good choice if hot debates or personal feelings of current activists are involved.

I guess you get the point.


If you have the possibility, try to spread the workload somewhat evenly. So, if someone is only available occasionally and volunteers to take over a case they should be prefered over "the usual suspects", which already have many cases running.