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CIArb News

UK transport disputes crisis: Arbitration is the answer

1 March 2017 News

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) endorses arbitration as a method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), particularly in regard to complex disputes such as those between unions and transport operators that have affected commuters over the past year and continue to do so with the recent announcement of industrial action by Tube workers on the London Underground on Tuesday 7 March and a walk out planned on three rail networks on Monday 13 March by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).


The Trade Union Act 2016 which comes into force today, makes it more difficult for a union to call its members out to take part in industrial action.  Binding Pendulum Arbitration (BPA) would go further by drafting in an independent arbitrator who would enable a resolution to be made quickly, thus sparing commuters the inconveniences of frequent and ongoing strike action. 


Arbitration is different to mediation in that parties are not seeking to find a compromise. An independent arbitrator will make an award which will have a ‘win-or-lose’ outcome.  This means disputing parties have to seriously consider the consequences of adopting extreme positions in their negotiations and come up with reasonable proposals from the outset.  Arbitration is also typically cost effective, confidential and enables one to choose an arbitrator with expertise in a specific field.


The Keith Prince GLA Conservatives Struck Out 2 Judgement Day Report, refers to Richard Tracey’s proposed system whereby:


  1. Strike action on London Underground would become illegal.
  2. If 50%+1 of all eligible union members voted to take a dispute further, they would proceed to binding pendulum arbitration (BPA).
  3. London Underground and the relevant union would put their cases to an arbitrator to choose between the two positions.


Commenting generally on the use of arbitration for public transport disputes, Anthony Abrahams, Director General of CIArb, said:


Transport related disputes are disruptive for all who use the public transport network.  Arbitration can be a very effective method of dispute resolution which is generally fast, cost effective and enables an independent arbitrator to solve the matter in a fair and impartial manner. Enabling a speedy resolution to disputes is of benefit to all.



For further information, please contact:
Nikki Nang Nilar
PR Executive
T: 020 7421 7481

Notes to editors:

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb)

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) is a leading professional membership organisation representing the interests of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practitioners worldwide. With over 14,000 members located in 133 countries, CIArb supports the global promotion, facilitation, and development of all forms of private dispute resolution.