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The role of an arbitrator

Arbitration is a dispute resolution procedure whereby two parties in dispute agree (an arbitration agreement) to be bound by a decision of an independent third party (the arbitrator). The role of an arbitrator is similar to that of a judge save that, on principle of ‘party autonomy’ (whereby the parties can agree procedural and evidential matters), the procedure can be less formal. An arbitrator is usually an expert in his/her own right.

An arbitrator should be able to:

  • Act fairly and impartially using his/her general knowledge of the subject matter;

  • Reach a fair decision based on the evidence and arguments submitted by the parties; and

  • When appropriate take the initiative in ascertaining the facts and law.

The advantages of arbitration

Arbitration is private and often informal. Many property or construction disputes can be settled quickly and fairly by arbitration. A Chartered Surveyor arbitrator will be able to understand the disputed issues faced by the parties in a land, property or construction dispute.

Rules governing arbitrators

Arbitration is carried out within a legislative framework with the current Act being the Arbitration Act 2010 which has replaced the Arbitration Acts 1954‐1998.

The arbitrator’s decision, which is called the ‘award’ is final and binding. An arbitrator’s Award has the same status as a Judgment or Order of the High Court and it is enforceable as such. It is not possible to appeal an arbitrator’s Award and there are limited grounds for challenge under Article 34 of the UNCITRAL Model Law adopted in the Arbitration Act 2010.

Agreements to refer disputes to arbitration are often made in a lease or contract. If not, a separate agreement can be made by the parties after a dispute has arisen.