What Is Arbitration in World History?

Arbitration is a process of dispute resolution in which a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, hears both sides of a disagreement and makes a final, binding decision. This method of settling disputes has been used throughout world history, in various forms and for different purposes.

Early Forms of Arbitration

One of the earliest recorded examples of arbitration can be found in ancient Greece. The Greeks used a system known as diké exousía, which involved the appointment of an arbitrator to settle disputes between two parties. The arbitrator was chosen by both parties and had the power to make a binding decision.

Another example is found in the Bible, where Abraham and Lot resolved their dispute over grazing lands through arbitration. In this case, they chose to have their dispute settled by a group of elders who acted as arbitrators.

Arbitration in Medieval Europe

During the Middle Ages, arbitration became more formalized in Europe. Guilds and trade associations began to use arbitration to resolve commercial disputes between their members. This was seen as preferable to using the courts, which were often slow and corrupt.

In England, the Court of Common Pleas began to encourage arbitration between litigants in order to reduce its workload. This led to the development of specialized arbitrators who were trained in legal matters and could make informed decisions.

Modern Arbitration

Today, arbitration is widely used as a means of resolving commercial disputes around the world. It is often favored over litigation because it is faster, less expensive, and more private.

Arbitration can take many forms, depending on the needs of the parties involved. For example, some types of arbitration are binding, meaning that the decision made by the arbitrator is final and cannot be appealed. Other types are non-binding, meaning that either party can reject the decision and take their case to court.

The Advantages of Arbitration

Arbitration offers several advantages over traditional litigation. For one thing, it is typically faster and less expensive than going to court. Additionally, the parties involved can choose an arbitrator who has specific expertise in the relevant area of law or industry, ensuring that the decision is informed and fair.

Another advantage of arbitration is that it is private. Court cases are generally open to the public, which can be embarrassing or damaging for businesses or individuals involved in a dispute. Arbitration proceedings, on the other hand, are confidential.


Arbitration has a long and varied history that spans thousands of years. From ancient Greece to modern-day business disputes, arbitration has proven to be an effective means of resolving conflicts. Its advantages over traditional litigation have made it a popular choice for businesses around the world.