Arbitration too is a method employed for resolving disputes, the key being that it is legally enforceable. But, it is not the same as going to legal courts. Here, parties involved in a conflict consultan arbitrator to analyse the issues, hear them out, take stock of their offers for agreement and finally, deliver an award on the course of action they should take. Unlike mediation, an arbitrator’s award for an agreement is legally binding, and once having committed to an arbitration process, parties do not have the option of contesting it without a legal recourse; the latter may escalate not just the dispute, but also financial costs and timeframe for resolution. Most big businesses insert arbitration clauses in their contract while sealing high-stake deals, in favour of a systematic and constructive way to deal with conflicts, which are sometimes unavoidable. In India, parties can formally appoint any person they collectively trust, to professionally arbitrate between them. Normally, they choose an arbitrator with the requisite level of expertise to understand their issues, who they trust to be impartial and prudent.
Arbitration is deemed better than going to legal courts to settle disputes because it is less time-consuming and less expensive. Unlike mediation, arbitration is an evidence-based process, just as trial courts, but it is informal enough to let the arbitrator consider subjective opinions of parties. Yet, the decision taken by an arbitrator will be in consideration with what the law would support, as if it were a legal case. Prof Himanshu Rai offers his expertise as an arbitrator to individuals, groups, commercial establishments locked in conflict.