- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 18 Apr 2018
Arbitration in the construction industry
Arbitration is a private, contractual form of dispute resolution. It provides for the determination of disputes by a third party arbitrator or arbitration panel, selected by the parties to the dispute. Disputes are resolved on the basis of material facts, documents and relevant principles of law.
The arbitration process is administered by an appointed arbitrator subject to any relevant contractual rules and subject to the statutory regulatory framework applied by the domestic courts. There are only limited rights of appeal and legal costs are usually awarded to the successful party.
English law does not insist on any formal requirements for an arbitration agreement (for example it can be verbal), however if the agreement is not in writing it will be outside the supervisory regime of the courts established by the Arbitration Act.
Arbitration clauses are traditionally found in all standard form contracts used in the UK, often with related adjudication clauses (for example, JCT 16, and ICE 7th Edition (now withdrawn in favour of NEC3)). In the last few years there has been a tendency to set the dispute resolution default at litigation rather than arbitration, leaving the parties to specifically agree to arbitration.
Arbitration commences with a notice to concur which provides for agreement on the appointment of an arbitrator, failing which an arbitrator may be appointed by a nominating body (which should be named in the contract). Arbitration is now usually combined with adjudication and mediation in tiered dispute resolution procedures.
- It is private - there is no public record of any proceedings, although not necessarily confidential.
- Speed, although this depends very much on the manner in which the arbitrator conducts the arbitration.
- The parties can agree on an arbitrator with relevant expertise in the matter. The arbitrators award can be enforced as a judgement of the court.
- The parties must bear the costs of both the arbitrator and the venue.
- Sometimes arbitration simply mimics court processes and so you do not get the advantage of informality and speed.
- Limited powers of compulsion or sanction if one party fails to comply with directions of the arbitrator, which can significantly slow down the process.
- The arbitrator has no power to make interim measures, such as for the preservation of property.
- Limited appeal rights.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Alternative dispute resolution.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution legislation.
- Arbitration Act.
- Arbitration panel.
- Arbitration v Adjudication.
- Breach of contract.
- Causes of construction disputes.
- Construction Industry Model Arbitration Rules CIMAR.
- Contract claims.
- Dispute resolution.
- Dispute resolution boards.
- Expert determination.
- Expert evaluation.
- Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act.
- How does arbitration work?
- How to become an arbitrator.
- Pay now argue later.
- Pendulum arbitration.
- Provisional relief.
- The role of the mediator.
- Scheme for Construction Contracts.
 External references
- ICE contract.
- JCT contract.
- FIDIC contract.
- JCT/CIMAR: Construction Industry Model Arbitration Rules.
- PACE: Guide to the Appointment of Consultants and Contractors P549 and 384
Featured articles and news
An artist finds ruined and decaying buildings a source of inspiration for his work. Book review.
When is there a right to light, and what happens if it is obstructed?
What would the nationalisation of economic infrastructure mean for GB?
A new guide to improving value by reducing design error.
We've reached 80,000 page views a day and 10,000 registered users. Why not join them?
A masterplan is a framework within which a location is encouraged to develop or change. Read our introductory article.
New consultation announced on a specialist Housing Court to settle landlord-tenant disputes.
ICE responds to a transport consultation advising the government to make decisions enabling more inclusive cities.
BRE and Loughborough University complete first phase refurbishment of demonstration home.
If you’re a great writer and have practical experience of the construction industry, it could be you.
Frustrated by long documents or technical jargon? Put off by sign-up forms or costs? Take this 5 min survey to help improve construction knowledge.