The Institute of Arbitrators on 1 March 1915 was founded as an unincorporated association by H C Emery (a solicitor and chartered secretary), F M Burr (an architect), I W Bullen (an accountant), A Powells (profession unknown) and A Stevens (a solicitor).
Its aim was 'to raise the status of Arbitration to the dignity of a distinct and recognised position as one of the learned professions'. Membership in the early years was between three and four hundred.
The first Secretary of CIArb was H C Emery, one of the founders, and the first offices were at 32 Old Jewry, London EC2. The first President, elected in June 1915, was Lord Headley, a consulting engineer. Since then there have been eight further Secretaries, Secretary Generals or Director Generals.
In around 1920 the offices moved to Old Broad Street and in April 1925 it became an incorporated body limited by guarantee. Further moves took place including moving to Cannon Street in 1975 and Angel Gate in 1990.
In January 2001 the freehold of 12 Bloomsbury Square was acquired; the first time in its history that the Institute has owned the premises in which it has been located.
In 1975 there was a merger between the arbitration activities of the Institute and the London Court of Arbitration, thus affording the Institute a greater entrée into international arbitration and an invaluable opportunity to increase its public profile. The Institute entered into an association with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the City Corporation to create a Joint Committee of Management on which all three bodies were equally represented. The Institute and the London Court of Arbitration demerged in 1986.
In 1979, a Royal Charter was granted to the Institute which set the seal on recognition of the Institute as a learned body. 1981 saw the creation of the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators ranked ninety-third in the list of City livery companies.
In July 1990 the CIArb became a charitable body whose main objective is to promote and facilitate the determination of disputes by arbitration and alternative means of dispute resolution, other than resolution by the courts.
A number of measures to further this objective were established amongst which were:
- affording means of communication between members of the Institute and others concerned with arbitration and alternative means of dispute resolution
- providing training and education at all levels for those practising or wishing to practise as arbitrators
- providing means for testing the qualifications of candidates for admission to professional membership of the Institute by examination.
The Royal Charter was updated in 1999 when a new category of Member was introduced, so that the categories are now Associate, Member and Fellow. Also a new qualification of Chartered Arbitrator was introduced as the highest level of qualification for an arbitrator.
Changes were made to the Royal Charter in 2005, to give a greater say in the management of the Institute to members resident outside England and Wales, and the replacement of Council by a regionally elected Board of twelve Trustees.
Membership currently stands at approximately fourteen thousand individuals, half of which are overseas. During the 1980s the increase in membership numbers led to the creation of branches in the UK and overseas, so that members who wished to play an active part in the Institute's affairs would be able to do so. There are now a growing number of branches across all six continents.