Guide to becoming an arbitrator

Martin Burns

Head of ADR Research and Development (RICS)

In the first of a series where we look at the different forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services that RICS provides for those wishing to become qualified in this area, we take a look at arbitration and becoming an arbitrator.


What is ADR?

Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, is the collective term for a range of methods designed to solve professional and personal disputes in the UK without the need to go through the lengthy, expensive and very public processes associated with the court system.

Through ADR, parties on both sides of a dispute can come some or all of the way in resolving their problems and move forward, saving time, money, and in the case of commercial disputes, managing reputational risk. ADR is increasingly either mandated or expected to have been tried before the courts in an increasing number of jurisdictions, including the UK.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a form of ADR. It is a particular method for legally resolving disputes, which is enshrined in domestic and international law. Arbitrators possess a specialist skillset which relies on professional experience combined with the ability to fairly and impartially listen to a dispute and then issue a legally binding award – the parties are bound by an arbitrator’s decision.

Arbitrators are usually experts in their own right and this method of ADR has many proven benefits in the saving of time and cost on the court system it is used instead of.

Who can become an arbitrator?

We primarily deal with construction, engineering and the wider built environment; however the profession itself is open to a wide range of people. The situations appropriate to arbitration as opposed to other forms of ADR could include:

  • Commercial rent review disputes
  • Disputes under JCT, NEC3, FIDIC and other contract forms
  • Building defects and dilapidations

What are the professional and personal benefits of becoming an arbitrator?

Becoming an arbitrator is an intellectually challenging and satisfying career step; the most obvious benefit is becoming RICS accredited, and the potential this gives to actually marketing oneself as a qualified arbitrator and earning fees in this specialist area of work.

There is also the kudos that comes with the qualification, as well as opening networking opportunities, and obtaining membership of CIArb. Not least, resolving disputes satisfactorily can be immensely rewarding.

RICS is seeing a steady rise in need for qualified arbitrators in non-UK markets, and we especially anticipate a rise in demand for arbitration with the launch of our new Construction & Engineering Arbitration Service (CEAS).

What are the steps in becoming an arbitrator?

You will need to first of all undertake an accredited training course, RICS offers a Diploma in Arbitration, which is a nationally recognised qualification, standing at Level 5 on the QCF. Once qualified you will need to gain practice, which can be done in several ways:

  • Observing and assisting in arbitrations under the supervision of experienced arbitrators
  • Pro-bono arbitrating of consumer schemes and similar

Once you have gained some practical experience in the arbitration process, you will be ready to put yourself forward for appointment on a larger, fee bearing arbitration.

For more information on training and accreditation, contact RICS DRS Training on +44 (0)24 7686 8584.  

Comments (1)

  1. Please contact me to explain in more detail about observing and assisting in arbitration leading to qualification. I already have a Diploma in arbitration from CEM gained in 1996 and elected MCIArb in 2000. I would also like to know about RICS Expert Witness Registration Scheme having completed Legal Experience Training Advanced Professional Award in Expert Witness Evidence (LETAPAEEWE) accredited by Edexcel at a level 7 (Masters level) BTEC in 2013
    Stefan Gray
    07771 933624

    Stefan Gray Stefan Gray, 20 October 2016 20 at 15:42PM

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