The Arbitration Act 1986 was supposed to make the resolution of business to business disputes simpliar, cheaper and quicker. However this well meaning piece of legislation is being abused by big business where issues arise in their dealing with smaller business. It is a basic priniciple of our human rights that we should not be deined access to the court system which regulates and governs our land. Reference of a matter to Arbitration was supposed to require the agreement of both parties and the resulting arbitration was supposed to be immpartial.

However the Arbitartion process is now mainly run by the large trade organisations which are dominated by the large companies within the sector which also fund their very existence. This detracts from the immpartialality that one would expect from a quasi judicial process. The Arbitration process has also now become slow and expensive and indeed Arbitration are changing hourly rates high than that of legally qualified solicitors. This is making the process very far from the fair alternative it was supposed to be. Futhermore senior Industry employees are able to make large sums of money by working on Arbitration panels either upon their retierment or as a profitable sideline to their day job within the industry. Whilst people with expert knowledge obviously have something to offer the process, a degree of common sense is also require and can only be achieved if lay people make up the majority of any arbitration panel.

Why is this idea important?

A business that wishes a matter dealt with by the court system should have that option as a right and should not be forced to participate in a process that they do not believe will yield an immpartial judgement on the facts. At present the Arbiration process can be started by one side in the dispute and the other side is forced to either take part in the process or risk a judgement in their absence. The next step is a compulsory Appeal hearing by a similar Arbitration panel and only once this process is at an end can either party seek a judicial review and even this is not a garranteed option as it depends on wether the Appeal panel leave this possibility open in it's judgement. The Arbitration process is now more expensive and slower than the court system that it was supposed to streamline and therefore reform is urgently needed.

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