An introduction to arbitration for construction lawyers
Produced in partnership with Mayer Brown International LLP
An introduction to arbitration for construction lawyers

The following Construction guidance note Produced in partnership with Mayer Brown International LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • An introduction to arbitration for construction lawyers
  • What is arbitration?
  • Origins in England
  • Is there a definition?
  • General principles
  • Contractual basis
  • Differences to litigation
  • Is it quicker and cheaper than court?
  • Comparisons with adjudication
  • Arbitration in the construction industry

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a alternative form of dispute resolution to litigation, under which a dispute is submitted to an arbitrator (or arbitrators) for determination, rather than to a court. It is a consensual process in the sense that it will only apply if the parties agree it should.

Origins in England

Arbitration grew out of the international and local courts that were set up as an alternative to the royal court system in the Middle Ages. These courts were set up in response to the demand by merchants for an alternative system for the resolution of commercial cases because the royal court system was slow, not well-suited to mercantile disputes and not accessible to parties who were not resident in England. A predominant feature of these courts was that strict formalities should be waived or set aside in commercial cases to allow for the law to be speedily administered.

The practice of arbitration was eventually given a statutory basis in England when Parliament passed the first Arbitration Act in 1698. Subsequent legislation led to the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996), which is the principal English arbitration statute.

Is there a definition?

Despite various attempts to define arbitration, there is no single accepted definition. This may reflect the multi-facetted nature of the process and the way