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Arbitration represents the principal alternative to the court system and is widely used by the construction industry and international commerce. Arbitration provides an attractive second stage in the event of the break down of negotiated settlement.

Arbitration offers the concept of party autonomy. This means that the parties have the right and power to decide many of the procedures that will govern the conduct of their arbitration. Default systems for the conduct of arbitrations are provided by arbitral organisations and by international and domestic arbitration codes. However, the parties can chose to derogate from the default provisions. The parties can decide on the degree of formality they desire, how much time will be allocated to various aspects of the process and how documentation, discovery and the taking of evidence will be handled. Arbitration therefore offers the possibility of informality, speed, cost savings and privacy for the client. Speed and informality are encouraged by the Arbitration Act 1996. However, whilst arbitration is often less expensive than litigation it can be more expensive on times especially if the parties engage in protracted hearings and chose to adopt cumbersome procedures

Arbitration emulates the courts in some respects and has been described as a private court dispute settlement system. It is therefore a more formal procedure than mediation. There are significant differences between arbitration and litigation. Arbitration in the UK under the auspices of NADR, The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the London Court of International Arbitration offers disputing parties considerable benefits especially since the Arbitration Act 1996 became law.

The courts support the arbitral process in a number of ways, in particular in respect of orders for disclosure of information and in the preservation of funds that may be needed to finance an arbitral award. The courts are less likely to interfere with the arbitral process than was the case before the 1996 Act was passed.

The New York Convention on Enforcement of Arbitral Awards allows for international enforcement of awards. This is a major advantage for international clients compared to the court system.

Adjudication/Arbitration or Litigation.
The arbitrator / judge will be aware that an adjudication has taken place and inevitably will be aware that the claimant / plaintiff was not satisfied with the outcome of the adjudication. The arbitrator / judge will not know the details of the adjudication decision until he has made his final award or ruling and turns his attention to the award of costs. The reason for the adjudicator's decision therefore has no impact on the subsequent decision and from this perspective the subsequent hearings differ significantly from an appeal from a previous finding of an arbitrator or lower court.

If the claimant wins the arbitration or court case he will recover the monies paid out complying with the adjudication decision and the costs of the claim. If he fails the adjudication decision is undisturbed and the claimant covers the cost of the failed claim. If the arbitration award or court judgement is less than the adjudication decision the claimant will have to pay the costs of the action. There is therefore considerable risk involved in deciding to take the claim to arbitration or to court. In the two years since adjudication came into being there have been very few subsequent challenges. To all intents and purposes therefore for most people adjudication ends up being the final stage of the dispute resolution process.

The great value of adjudication is that the parties quickly get a decision which enables them to get on with business and put the dispute behind them. Even if one of the parties decides to proceed further the parties have a firm basis upon which to proceed in the interim period. Prior to the introduction of construction adjudication it was common for building sites to grind to a halt until a dispute was settled. This is no longer the case. Projects are completed quickly and the industry has saved a great deal of money by avoiding unnecessary disruption. The same benefits can be enjoyed by parties to contractual, as opposed to statutory based, adjudication processes

It is hardly surprising therefore that many people and organisations choose to settle their disputes by private arbitration or adjudication, bypassing the judicial system. Arbitration has been used in the United Kingdom and internationally for going on for 400 years. Adjudication is now a significant part of the dispute resolution process in the United Kingdom.

Legal practice and Adjudication Legal practice and Arbitration
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