Arbrix exists to promote best practice in the arbitration process.
Our story starts in the 1980s, when there was a realisation that there was a need for additional suitably qualified chartered surveyors who were able to take appointments as arbitrators.
It was also recognised that there should be a suitable training programme for existing and would-be arbitrators.
In a key initiative, the RICS set up training courses for new arbitrators and “refresher courses” for those already accepting appointments.
Those attending the early courses shared a common interest and friendships were formed by those with the desire to continue their education in the “art” of arbitration. As a result, the Arbrix Club was born.
The prime movers at the time were Clifford Dann, Bill Nutley, David Green and George Grover who, at the inaugural meeting in 1986, were elected as principal officers in the new organisation. At that meeting, Ronald Bernstein and Kirk Reynolds were unanimously elected as Honorary Members in recognition of the unstinting help they had both given in the establishment of the arbitrator training programme.
In 1987, Lord Justice Mustill was elected as an Honorary Member in recognition of his considerable help and support. This close link to the legal profession was, and continues to be, a significant factor in the success of Arbrix.
The inaugural meeting saw the approval of a constitution that was admirable in its brevity – fitting easily on to an A5 sheet of paper – and which included a succinct definition of the aims and objectives of Arbrix.
This was to “to provide a forum for Chartered Surveyors (and others on the Lord Chancellor’s Panel for agricultural cases) experienced as arbitrators to discuss from time to time current problems and experiences, and formal and informal meetings shall be arranged as may be decided”.
The Arbrix Club was an immediate success and drew into its membership all those who had gone through the training programmes and who had been accepted by the President as being suitable to take arbitration appointments.
The increase in membership led to the realisation that meetings could not properly cover all aspects of arbitration and, in 1991, the Construction Group was founded to deal with issues specific to that industry. In 1992 the Rural Group was founded to deal with agricultural matters. However, both remained an integral part of Arbrix.
The Arbitration Act 1996 introduced an entirely new arbitration code. Training on the new procedures was intense, with a special one-day conference in London in January 1997 dealing specifically with the new Act.
During the 1990s there was a growing interest in Alternative Dispute Resolution, with the creation by the RICS of a panel of mediators and the introduction of the PACT scheme in 1997.
Arbrix embraced these innovative projects, providing a forum where those involved could discuss matters specific to those disciplines. One significant benefit of the PACT scheme was that it brought members of the legal profession into Arbrix and they have made a material contribution to rent review and expert conferences.
In 1998, The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act came into effect – introducing adjudication as a method of dispute resolution. The introduction of this Act saw membership of the Construction Group triple in size.
By the end of the decade there was a realisation that membership had increased to such an extent that the then structure of the Club was inadequate.
It was agreed Arbrix should be incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and there should be a separate vehicle for the management of conferences. These changes did not alter the underlying ethos of Arbrix.
The first objective set out in the Memorandum of Association states that the aim is to “provide a forum for members to discuss, from time to time, current problems and experiences relating to arbitration and dispute resolution and to hold meetings to further those objectives”.
In 2002, Arbrix merged with INDEX, a previously independent group that had been established to provide training and continuing education for surveyors acting as Independent Experts.
As a sub-group under the Arbrix umbrella, INDEX continues to provide one conference a year to deal with issues specific to expert appointments and its members (many of whom are also arbitrators) also attend the arbitration conferences.
The 1996 Act places great emphasis on the concept of party autonomy in arbitrations and Arbrix has been equally conscious of the need to ensure that the needs of consumers are met by those making awards.
To assist in the process of dialogue between parties and arbitrators, Arbrix organised two open conferences, in 2002 and 2005, attended by representatives of government, major landlords and tenants, and rent review surveyors. Both events were highly successful and helped provide better understanding of the processes involved.
Throughout, the principal objective of Arbrix has remained the same – to seek to promote best practice in the arbitration process. To that end regular conferences, dealing with matters of concern or interest to the groups involved, are held in locations designed to ensure as many members as possible are able to attend.
Without doubt the success of the conferences has reflected the high quality of speakers, with prominent members of the surveying and legal profession willingly participating at these events.
Arbrix is dedicated to continuing the work started in 1986. Particular emphasis will be placed on continuing to provide a forum for members to discuss issues and to promote best practice in the field of arbitration.