Submission of a dispute to a third, unbiased party for settlement. It may be personal litigation (legal action), a trade-union issue, or an international dispute.
Following the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, the first permanent international court was established in The Hague in the Netherlands, and the League of Nations set up an additional Permanent Court of International Justice in 1921 to deal with frontier disputes and the like. The latter was replaced in 1945 with the International Court of Justice under the United Nations. The UN Commission on International Trade Law adopted a model law in 1985 on international commercial arbitration.
Another arbiter is the European Court of Justice, which rules on disputes arising out of the Rome treaties regulating the European Union. The Council of Europe adopted the European Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes in 1977.
In 1970, the International Court of Justice offered its services for a controversy between states and individuals or corporations for the first time. The case, between a construction company and the government of Sudan, concerned the repudiation of a contract for the building of houses in the irrigation zone of the Khashm Al Qirbah Dam in Sudan.
In the UK, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) offers an arbitration service. Arbitration proceedings are governed by the Arbitration Acts 1950 and 1979. The Consumer Arbitration Agreement Act 1988 governs proceedings concerning differences between trader and consumer, and arbitration with respect to terms in a trader's standard contract.
Breach of contract, property disputes, slander actions, and trespass actions can all be submitted to arbitration. A matter which is clearly illegal and contrary to the public interest cannot be referred to arbitration. The parties are free to choose an arbitrator, and any reasonable choice will be upheld by law. In most cases a lawyer is chosen. A court or judge may put any point arising in any case to compulsory arbitration, when the award of the arbitrators may be enforced as the judgement of the court.
The practice was well known among the Greeks. There is evidence of both public and private arbitrators in many states, frequently appointed to settle claims in an equitable fashion and thereby relieve the pressure on the courts. In Roman times arbitration was widely used to settle and influence interstate relations. During the height of Rome's power, cases requiring arbitration were usually referred by cities and states to the Senate. Senatorial decision of disputes between provincial communities continued until the 3rd century BC.
International Court of Justice
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