Q. What does arbitration mean? The word ‘arbitration’ has been used to describe many different types of agreement or procedure which may not all in fact be arbitration. These range from agreements which are designed to prevent disputes arising in the future to agreements to be bound by the result of a valuation, even though there may be no hearing or submission of evidence, or an agreement to take the opinion of counsel though it is not binding on the parties. Indeed, clause 25.3 of the ACA form notes that an ‘adjudicator’ appointed by the parties to the contract to determine certain disputes referred to him acts merely as an expert and not as an arbitrator. Arbitration means the process whereby two or more parties who are in dispute agree in writing to settle their disagreement privately by referring the question not to a court of law, but to an independent person, or persons, as the case may be-namely, to an arbitrator. The dispute must be essentially civil in nature and one which can be settled by accord and satisfaction. The award, or decision of the arbitrator, is made after the evidence of all parties has been heard in a judicial manner, following the directions prescribed by such statutes as the Arbitration Act 1979. In certain circumstances, the arbitrator’s award may be reviewed by the courts. Q. When does an arbitration agreement exist? An arbitration agreement so long as it is in writing can take several forms, as is illustrated by the number of ways in which the standard forms of building and engineering contracts containing such agreements can be executed, namely:
1. mutual bonds; 2. deed; 3. simple contract; 4. sealed by one party but signed by another.