Arbitration is one of the methods of alternate dispute resolution (ADP) by which a third party is appointment after mutual consultation between the two parties as a mediator or problem-solver. The third party is then presented with the grievance being addressed by the two parties who then pass a judgment on the same and awards the party he deems fit on the basis of merit. This award is acceptable to the courts and is enforceable by them provided a few arbitration requirements are met, chief of which is that the process is free of bias and consensual. The arbitrator need not be a lawyer and can be a lay person with no prior apparent-bias links to either party.
The process is generally confidential and is only allowed if both parties agree to it. If one party does not agree to arbitration the matter is referred to the court. In case of future disputes, the parties may subject their contractual terms to an arbitration clause (such as in the aforementioned Steelworkers cases) or for existing disputes, apply for arbitration through a submission agreement. Once entered into, a party is not allowed to withdraw from the arbitration unilaterally (World Intellectual Property Organization).
The award of the arbitrator is easily acceptable as the agreement between the two parties generally states an adherence to his authority. Also in line with this claim is the fact that courts accept arbitration awards and willfully enforce them. The process of choosing an arbitrator itself can be through a number of ways. He is either directly or mutually appointed by the parties, by the court or another third party, or by an arbitration tribunal (which contains two members nominated by the parties to the case who in turn select a third arbitrator).
Arbitration may be preferred over court action for its ease of use and impartial adjudication techniques. It is generally accepted to be a faster and cheaper route to dispute resolutions since it allows for discretion in choosing the arbitrator (so that someone with technical expertise may be appointed who is more adept to the matters at hand), with less demanding preparation work thereby rendering it more efficient, more private than filing a suit in court, convenient, final and binding. It does not allow for appeal unless there is obvious evidence of a bias or partiality.
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