Arbitrator’s Blogging Sparks Complaints of Bias in Dispute

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By Juan Francisco García

The majority shareholders of the Latin American telecommunications company Continental Towers LATAM Holdings Limited have requested the disqualification of an arbitration tribunal due in part to blog posts written by the tribunal’s president allegedly making references to the dispute he was chairing. They allege that these posts “demonstrate bias” and “endanger the confidentiality of the proceedings,” according to report published on CIAR Global.

Terra Towers, Corp, the legal team acting on behalf of the majority shareholders of the telecommunications infrastructure company Continental Towers LATAM Holdings Limited, has filed a motion for reconsideration before a New York federal court to disqualify an arbitration panel that ordered the sale of the company. They accuse Peppertree Capital Management of allegedly using a third party to force the sale at a depreciated value, according to information from Inside Towers (see “Terra Towers Suit Cites Goldman, Peppertree and Others in Merger Conspiracy,” 22.04.2021).

According to the statement issued by Terra Towers, Corp, owner of 55% of Continental Towers, their petition to the court refers to several issues alleging the bias of the tribunal president who ruled in favor of the minority shareholders, Peppertree Capital Management et al (“Terra Towers, Corp. Files Motion to Reconsider Before Federal Court, Alleging Arbitrator Showed Bias in Blog Posts,” Businesswire, 20.03.2024).

Terra Towers’ petition cites numerous blog entries written by the tribunal president, Marc J. Goldstein, accusing him of making: “barely veiled references demonstrating his predispositions in favor of the plaintiffs and against Terra/DTH, but also endangering the confidentiality of the proceedings without apologizing.”

The claimants highlight a blog post written by the tribunal president that reportedly “makes suggestions, including a discussion about the possibility of requesting: ‘coercive incarceration as a civil contempt sanction, upon the theory that the contemnor goes behind bars while holding the keys to her release: compliance with the Judgment; specifically, ‘even while an appeal of the judgment is still pending.'”

The legal team representing Terra Towers argues that: “although the arbitrator did not use the parties’ names, these posts still reveal his predisposition to decide an issue.”