Arbitration through the Ages

Journal article | December 2013 | Available for purchase & free for members


Arbitration has a long and rich history. Despite this, ‘the writers of texts on arbitration have either substantially ignored the history of arbitration or have dealt with it in a most dismissive way’.

Although widely utilised by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, with the rise of the courts of common law in England towards the end of the middle ages came a degree of hostility towards arbitration that saw it lose favour well into the 19th century.

Despite the courts adopting a friendlier attitude towards arbitration in recent times, domestic arbitration has been in a state of malaise, particularly in Australia. The reason for this is twofold. First arbitration has often been viewed as mimicking drawn out and costly court litigation. A further complication was that the arbitral process was often subject to judicial intervention, undermining the finality of the arbitral award. The enactment of the revised uniform arbitration legislation in all Australian states and territories (with the exception of the ACT), replacing the previous arbitration regime, provide a real opportunity for arbitration to become an effective means of alternative dispute resolution in this country.

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We thank the author of this article and journal editor Russell Thirgood for their contribution to this journal.

Tags: Arbitration, Legal practice, Dispute handling administration