Offered by Richard Colbey, barrister

What are your qualifications and experience?
I have been a practising barrister for over twenty years. I am qualified as a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators, the leading body regulating arbitrators in the UK, admission to which is by competitive examination, assessment and interview. I am a member of the Bar Council and Law Society's panel of arbitrators on legal fee disputes. I have appeared in numerous Court of Appeal and other reported cases and am recommended in guides to the legal profession. I am a member of a large and successful chambers in the Temple For more details about my professional work see

How does the Scheme work?
I am willing to undertake paper only arbitrations on the terms set out below. I believe what I offer is a far more effective, quicker and cost efficient service than those provided by "official" arbitration schemes. Indeed it was my personal experiences of trying to use ABTA's arbitration scheme that interested me in becoming an arbitrator.

Any award (as arbitrators' decisions are called) made under this scheme is subject to the provisions of the Arbitration Act 1996 and as binding and enforceable as awards under established schemes.

What sort of dispute is this scheme suitable for?
Most references to me arise out of alleged breaches of contracts, though it may also be suitable for resolving neighbour disputes and ascertaining damages where there is an accident and fault has been agreed. Arbitration is most suitable where the parties are seeking money. In some circumstances an arbitrator can give a binding non-monetary remedy, such as a declaration on the position of a boundary. Although the Arbitration Act gives a power to arbitrators to grant injunctions there may be practical difficulties in enforcing these. Such relief is usually best left to the courts.

Are there advantages in using your scheme over the courts?
I hope so. A decision will be given far more quickly. My fees are roughly what the courts charge where there is a trial, but the costs of the parties' legal representation will be far less because of the speed and informality of my service. So long as the award is met, the unsuccessful party does not get a county court judgement registered against them.

How long does the award take?
I aim to have awards written within 28 days of accepting the case and receiving all the papers. If that is not possible I will let the parties know before accepting the case.

What are your fees?
My usual fees are based on the amount in issue and the quantity of documentation

Up to £15,000 (and up to 50 pages) £800 plus VAT

£15,001-£25,000 (and up to 80 pages) £1100 plus VAT

£25,001-£40,000 (and up to 100 pages) £1,500 plus VAT

£40,001-£50,000 (and up to 120 pages) £1,750 plus VAT

£50,001-£75,000 (and up to 160 pages) £2,000 plus VAT

£75,001-£100,000 (and up to 200 pages) £2,250 plus VAT

For arbitrations over £100,000 or where the parties want an oral hearing or where the remedy sought is not monetary I will provide a quotation on seeing the papers or case summary.

The amount in issue means the difference between the results each party seeks. So if the claimant is seeking £15,000 but the respondent has a counterclaim of £20,000 the amount in issue would be £35,000.

What if there are more than two parties?
If the parties have the same interest, for instance a husband and wife making a claim about building works, then it will have no impact on my fees or how I approach matters. However if parties have different interest, a customer, a builder and a sub-contractor for instance, it will make the matter more complex and usually my fees will increase by 20% for each additional party.

Will you always accept cases on the basis of the above fees?
In the vast majority of cases I will. However I reserve the right to refuse a case or ask for a higher fee. The most likely reasons for my doing so are that involves complex technical or scientific issues or that the instructions I receive are not clear enough for me to be able to ascertain what the issue is.

Is it necessary to have a solicitor to use this scheme?
I am happy to accept instructions regardless of whether solicitors are representing either or both parties. If solicitors are acting it would be helpful for them to prepare an agreed case summary. References may also be from people acting in person or those represented by other professionals such as surveyors or accountants. I can also accept references of matters considered by construction industry adjudicators.

How should we instruct you?
I would suggest all parties first decide they would like to use this scheme. Then one should e-mail me (or send a letter) with a brief summary of the case copying that e-mail to the other party. Telephone contact should be avoided where possible as I do not want to communicate with one party except in a form of which the other is completely aware.

I will then confirm that I am willing to take the case. I should then be sent instructions, which should contain all the documentation that each side wishes me to consider. Each side should include a single document setting out the facts and arguments they wish me to have regard to. There may also be witnesses statements, Particulars or Points of Claim or Defence. Copies of any relevant contracts or letters of complaint should be included. Each case will have a different type of relevant documentation. I can only consider documents that have been seen by both all parties.

Papers should be sent to me at:

Lamb Chambers,
London EC4Y 7AS

DX: 418, London, Chancery Lane

My fax is 020 7797 8308 e-mail tel: 020 7797 8300

Please do not fax or e-mail papers beyond the initial summary. (Opening e-mail attachments can be very time consuming and faxes often prove hard to read)

How do we pay you?
I expect to be sent payment along with the case papers. It is for the parties to decide between themselves who pays what proportion of my fees. The liability to pay my fees is joint and several. That means each party is liable to me for the lot, if the other defaults. If I am sent a banker's draft, building society cheque or solicitors' client or office account cheque I will not present it until I have written the award. I present personal cheques as soon as I start considering the papers. It may be possible to pay by credit or debit card. If a case settles before I have started considering it, I will refund 50% of my fee. If I have already started considering the papers, I will consider a smaller refund depending on the amount of time I have spent working on the case.

Can you make the other party pay my costs?
Section 61 of the Arbitration Act gives an arbitrator power to award costs. The parties may however reach an agreement on costs which overrides this power. Normally the same principles as are applied in the courts are followed. The losing party will usually be ordered to pay the entire arbitrator's fees, which may mean reimbursing the other party for the proportion they have already paid. In claims over £5,000 costs of legal representation are normally awarded. If a party is unrepresented they are entitled to claim for their time in preparing the case at the rate of £9.25 per hour. In claims over £5,000 each party should send with the papers a summary of the costs it would like to be awarded if they are successful. I will normally award costs and decide on the amount when making my decision. If there are complex issues about the amount of costs I may order that they be separately assessed.

Do you award interest?
When making an award of a money sum, an arbitrator will normally award interest. If the contract in question specifies an interest entitlement that is applied, if not the same rate as is currently awarded by a court is applied. It is for a party who wants to be awarded interest to say so in their case summary and as far as possible calculate it.

What form does your award take?
Each award will be a tailored to a particular case but usually I identify the parties, state the terms of reference, summarise the relevant undisputed facts and the parties' contentions on the disputed ones, state what my findings are on disputed facts and why, deal with any issues of law in the light of those facts and then state my conclusions on the main issue and where appropriate award costs and interest. I will end the award with a clear statement of what has been decided, for instance "The Defendant is to pay the Claimant £12,000 plus interest of £350 costs assessed at £1,500 within 28 days of the date of this award"

Can we use this scheme if court proceedings have already started?
The scheme can be used during the course of proceedings if all parties agree. The court's permission needs to be obtained to stay the proceedings, but this should be a formality.

Is there an appeal from your award?
There is a limited right of appeal to the High Court against an arbitrator's award, basically if there is an error of law or procedural irregularity.

Are there any further terms dealing with your instruction?
The Arbitration Act sets out the basis on which an arbitrator is instructed. I believe that this website in conjunction with the Act fully sets out the terms and conditions on which I am prepared to act. I do not see the need for any "small print" making the contract obscure or over-complex. By instructing me you agree to these terms.