Career Opportunities of an Arbitrator

By | December 18, 2019
Career Opportunities of an Arbitrator

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Career Opportunities for an Arbitrator are immense. There are multiple organisations that work for institutional arbitration. As an arbitrator, one can always consider joining them. Rest, the fields are as wide as including commercial, investment and labour disputes. Hence, one can gain specialisation in any one of them in the market.


Resolving disputes is a skill as well as a necessity today. The former is the characteristic of a person whereas the latter is the situation in which that characteristic is put to practice.

Today, where courts are burdened and problems in dispute are complex in nature[1], one yearns for a focussed as well as expert atmosphere in which the dispute can be addressed.

Here, the role of arbitrator and the arbitration comes in. To get guidance on the legal framework for the same, internationally one goes to the UNCITRAL Model law[2] and the famous New York Convention. Domestically, we have the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996[3].

An arbitrator thus plays a crucial role in putting to effect an important purpose. In this article, we shall explore various kinds of career opportunities that are available to an arbitrator when it comes to practise.

Becoming an arbitrator

Similar to the posts of the arbitrator is the position of a mediator and conciliator. The job is similar to that of the arbitrator only but the methodology and way of work are quite different. Mostly for an arbitrator one requires a Bachelor degree at the least.[4]

Major in some particular subject can be desirable but that is not necessary. Especially in Indian law, there is no particular requirement when it comes to qualifications. Having a sound mind and of the age of majority is capable of being an arbitrator.[5] At the most, the role and functions should be well versed with, like impartiality and following the principles of natural justice.

This virtue has been highlighted in the very definition of the word Arbitration. It is being defined as-

The process by which the parties to a dispute submit their differences to the judgment of an impartial person or a group appointed by mutual consent or statutory provision

Hence, the virtue of impartiality is being harped upon again and again. This has been the case wherever the notion of arbitration comes. Thus, it becomes more important to understand the career opportunities available to a person who has to practise this virtue of impartiality.


The career opportunities vary across the types of arbitrations available. As per the kind of law being adjudicated upon, the specialisation would differ. Thus, one becomes associated with that particular kind of arbitration. This leads to a wide array of opportunities for being seen as a face of that field.

It can commercial, investment or labour Arbitration. The last one is further divided into interest and grievance arbitration.[6] The former is associated with determining the common grounds on the negotiated terms. The latter is associated with the application and interpretation of terms of law into practical cases.[7]

This also throws light on that kind of arbitration that took boom between the end of Second World War and 1970s. It is called the Labour Management Arbitration.[8] This is another term given to the last form of arbitration discussed in the preceding paragraph.

So, the career opportunities of an arbitrator depend upon the field that’s being chosen by the person in particular. It can be commercial arbitration, Investment arbitration or labour arbitration. The arbitration can be ad hoc or institutional.

Ad Hoc Arbitration

The simple understanding of ad hoc arbitration is the arriving at an arbitral framework after the dispute has arisen. On a case to case basis, thus, the arbitrator is being selected by the mutual consent of both the parties.

The important point is that Arbitration and the Conciliation Act of 1996 govern the important parameters which would have to be met by the arbitrator before his selection. Thus, in the case of ad- hoc arbitration, the parties have to ensure that no prior link exists with the arbitrator so as to avoid any sort of conflict of interest.

Institutional Arbitration

The ad hoc arbitration was the selection of a panel of arbitrators or a sole arbitrator by the parties themselves. But the case of Institutional Arbitration is different. As the name itself suggests, the arbitration is not conducted individually by a person or group of persons.

Rather, there is an organisation being built up for the purpose of conducting the arbitration. As mentioned above, there can be different types of arbitrations required to be conducted as would depend upon the nature of the dispute that would come up.

Thus, an institution is usually preferred by parties like corporate and businessmen because the respective institution would bear the burden of providing infrastructural amenities and facilities to the conduct of proceedings.

These institutions have their own curial law that implies the rules and regulations that have been so framed by the institution for conducting the process. Hence, it becomes imperative to look at and thus comprehend different such institutions that are offering arbitral services.

As an individual arbitrator in the competitive market of arbitration, there are many avenues. But, the more premier and established institution, one would join the more experience one would gain and it would also help in developing a market image that can be considered as dependable.

Otherwise, the work that can come through ad hoc arbitration would be more a result of individual marketing. The career in this type of arbitration is also very important and interesting. But the leverage of the institutional arbitration would be more secure and informative in terms of career opportunity.

Let us examine different such opportunities that are being offered through many of such institutions.

Domestic Institutions.

  1. Indian Chamber of Commerce[9] (ICC)

Set up by the famous industrialists like GD Birla, ICC is based in the East and North-Eastern India. There are various industrial groups associated with the organisation. It had been closely involved in the Freedom Movement of the Indian colony from the Britishers as well.

The Headquarters are located in Kolkata. Indian Sugar Mills Association etc are associated with the organisation. Commercial expansion is the key objective of the mission being undertaken by the organisation.

Thus, Alternative Dispute Resolution is one of the institutional services that are rendered by the organisation. Hence, there is a proper Secretariat which handles the conduct of an arbitration. Rules are being framed. One, being an aspiring arbitrator can always join this institute to have an exposure of the business transactions and exposure to the commercial and domestic arbitration.

  1. Indian Council of Arbitration[10] (ICA)

It is a specialised arbitration body that has been long back established in 1965. The apex business organisation of FICCI was being the pioneer behind the establishment of this crucial organisation. In entire Asia- Pacific, it is an eminent hub of arbitration.

Commercial disputes are being handled under the aegis of ICA. Maritime arbitration services are also being generously provided by the institute. Thus, one who has specialisation in the arbitration concerning maritime law or has an interest in the maritime disputes can always consider applying as an arbitrator in ICA.

Exposure to the commercial world is also immense. As per the official website of the ICA, it says that it handles around 400 cases concerning commercial businesses each year. As on 4th of November, 2019, the list of advocates who are being associated with the ICA as arbitrators has been put on the website.

There is a diverse field of areas from where these advocates come to apply as an arbitrator. Some are Advocates- On- Record, some are even Senior Advocates. This is only the case with the advocates, rest there are foreign nationals, judges and people from other walks of life such as Chartered High Court also.

You can always consider applying to this premier organisation.

  1. International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR)[11]

Started as a Society in May 1995, ICADR is dedicated to providing Alternative Dispute Resolution services as part of their mission of promoting arbitration. The want is to have an early resolution of disputes.

The exposure gained here is also not less important. The Honourable Chief Justice of India is the ex officio chairperson of the organisation. This is also the plus point that a variety of disputes are being handled by the organisation.

The website of the organisation has the column of Areas of Work. In that section, one gets to know how wide is the ambit of the work that is being undertaken by the organisation. Whether it is family disputes or Civil matters, whether it is a matter of commercial nature or Labour issues, ICADR has presence all over.

Joint ventures and product liability are all the assets of the working of the organisation. Thus, in whichever field you are specialised as an arbitrator, this institute would need you. Be ready to have an enriching experience.

  1. Nani Palkivala Arbitration Centre[12]

Madras High Court had recognised this particular institution for arbitration under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.[13]  Various legal luminaries and of the country are the pioneers of this organisation.

A wide array of opportunities are also available at this magnificent centre. Being manned by great leadership, one gets to have a lot of exposure and experience in the field of commercial and domestic arbitration.

International Institutions

  1. World Intellectual Property Organisation Arbitration and Mediation Centre [14]

It is a self-described neutral international and non-profit dispute resolution provider. The best part is not only the international nature of the disputes that come up for arbitration but also the fact that the disputes are of a specialised nature.

It is well evident that WIPO is the organisation working for Intellectual Property Rights.  Hence, the disputes are also, automatically of that nature. But, the story doesn’t stop there. The Institution also deals with mediation, expedited arbitration and expert determination.

The settling of disputes that takes place is through the issues that come up regarding cross- border IP and technology disputes. The institution thus becomes a global leader in the services so to be provided for this specialised nature of disputes.

One who has a niche or interest, as well as the aptitude, can very well think of joining the institution with their calibre.

  1. Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)[15]

This is the premier and one of the most prestigious organisations as far as arbitration is concerned. Mr Gary Born, a leading figure in international arbitration is the President of the SIAC Court of Arbitration.

The benefits of joining this institute would not only be the high profile cases and the huge exposure that one would easily gain if a part of SIAC, but the strong multicultural atmosphere in which the SIAC functions is the boon of joining.

If you are interested in commercial as well as international Arbitration, definitely SIAC is an avenue for you. Joining, of course, would not be easy and simple. But the burning desire to achieve a feat in this field would be the appropriate fuel required.

  1. Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC)[16]

On the Eastern belt of the world, HKIAC is a very prestigious and famous institute for arbitration. From the paycheque to the quantum of experience that would be gained being a part of this Centre would be tremendous.

HKIAC is known for its various customizable services that are being provided to the people who come in here as clients. The Queen Mary University of London ranks the centre among the Top Five seats of arbitration.

It began in 1985 and gained a huge repute as a not-for-profit organisation. The advantage that can be gained through joining the Centre would indeed be the China-specific nature of disputes that one gets to handle.

  1. London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA)[17]

Again for the commercial dispute resolution, London, being the financial capital of Europe can be the best places to work at. One can get to work in the international disputes of commercial nature. In 1981, the age-old organisation of London Court of Arbitration was being changed to the London Court of International Arbitration.

It has an illustrious record in maintaining its prestige in the international commercial arbitration. It also has an LCIA Court with 35 members. It is also a not- for profit organisation and can be joined for the sake of immense experience.


As many laws, that much arbitration. As in the case of Investment and International Trade, there are other dedicated Centres like the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

If you are an arbitrator and want to earn a name for it, you may consider availing the opportunities so herein above appended.

[1] Avani Pandya, India: Arbitration and Courts – A confluence, September 20, 2018, Mondaq, (last visited December 13, 2019)

[2] UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985, UNCITRAL.Org,

[3] Arbitration and Conciliation Act, (Act No. 26), 1996, India code.Nic.In,

[4] Arbitrator, Mediator and Conciliators,,

[5] Arbitrator- Qualifications and Capacities, ICAIndia.Co.In,

[6] Peter Seitz, Strictly Arbitrary: What Do Arbitrators Do?, The American Scholar, Vol. 53, No. 4 (The Phi Beta Kappa Society, Autumn 1984), pp. 514-521.

[7] Id.

[8] Walter J. Gershenfeld, On Becoming A Labor-Management Arbitrator: Where Will The New Arbitrators Go? Will They Ever Earn?, Perspectives on Work, Vol. 1, No. 3 (University of Illinois Press on behalf of the Labor and Employment Relations Association 1997), pp. 53-58.





[13] §11(b) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.





  1. International centres of Arbitration(Opens in a new browser tab)
Author: Rishabh Aggarwal