Over the last couple of decades, arbitration, its practical aspects, but also its very notion, have faced severe attacks from a variety of critics: politicians, members of civil society, users, etc. While arbitration practitioners are actively tackling many areas of reform, the majority of these denunciations appear, for the most part, biased and overly simplistic. Yet, these critiques have pervaded the public discourse, probably due to a lack of effort to educate, convey, and promote the spirit of arbitration. In sum, the general opinion on this unfamiliar form of justice is all the more biased given how little is known about it.
This failure to adequately educate the uninitiated has led many to see this process as inaccessible, as a system only in place for high-level or very technical disputes. Even when setting aside cost considerations, this layer of complexity has further burdened the perception that arbitration is primarily designed to cater to the elite, accessible only to a privileged few. Meanwhile, discussions about arbitration are generally (and rightly so given the wealth of topics to address) academic and abstract, and therefore less accessible to the general public. In light of these circumstances it seemed necessary to bring the debate into other spheres, through a different medium than dense and lengthy articles, in order to popularize and simplify the debate. The point is, when asked, “What exactly is arbitration?”, to avoid answering: “Well, it’s complicated.” Thus, to fill an obvious gap for which we, as arbitration practitioners, may bear some responsibility, one approach could be to stop convincing and speaking to ourselves and perhaps be less elitist and more … user-friendly.
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This post, Defending and Promoting Arbitration: Make it Simple!, by Jalal El Ahdab, Kluwer Arbitration Blog first appeared on at http://www.adrtoolbox.com/.