The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators was founded in 1915 to provide a member organisation for practising arbitrators - principally in construction. A not-for-profit organisation, the Institute gained charitable status in 1990. It has become a global body, with headquarters in London and branches worldwide.

With approaching 10,000 members in 85 countries, the Institute not only promotes and facilitates the determination of disputes by arbitration, but also by alternative means of dispute resolution (ADR) including mediation, for business and commercial sectors involving: the law, construction, shipping, engineering, finance, insurance, commodities, medicine, health, IT, sport and the automotive industry. The Institute's sphere of interest is constantly being widened to encompass other specialist fields of activity and to expand our educational services. Initiatives in 2000 led to new training programmes in Bhutan, Lebanon, China and the Czech Republic.

Council - the Institute's policy-making body - took a pivotal decision to broaden the Institute's primary objectives involving arbitration to encompass ADR. This led to a change in the Royal Charter in June 1999. While it continues to advocate arbitration as an alternative to litigation, the Institute encourages the wide use of ADR to achieve the early and private settlement of disputes. Following a successful seminar with the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association in July 2000, the Institute launched its mediation panel and commenced training mediators in December, to complement a range of other educational and training services. In the Institute's view, the key issue in the whole process of dispute resolution is to find the most appropriate course of action to settle each individual dispute.

To achieve its goal of facilitation the Institute prides itself on being able to offer education and training in different jurisdictions anywhere in the world, either to provide an assured global standard for practitioners or to help professionals involved in business or sport who need to know about dispute resolution. Conscious of the need to ensure quality, the Council introduced the grades of Chartered Arbitrator and Member at the beginning of July 1999. A fast-track procedure to become a Fellow of the Institute was also introduced for experienced lawyers and arbitrators who have been in practice for at least ten years.

There is no doubt that those who join the Institute become members of a world-wide network of dispute resolvers.

In addition to its educational activities, the Institute conducts "Dispute Resolution Services", administering bespoke schemes for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions to provide cost-effective and timely settlement of disputes. The Institute also offers an appointing service for ad-hoc arbitrations. In a period of constant change, the Institute is keeping pace with the e-commerce revolution through its recent partnership with Ford Europe, to provide the first on-line arbitration service in the UK.

In conclusion, by providing international training courses, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators is dedicated to facilitating access to justice for all, both in the developed and the developing world.