Deutsch: Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit / Español: Arbitraje / Português: Arbitragem / Français: Arbitrage / Italian: Arbitrato

Arbitration is a method of resolving disputes outside the courts, where the parties involved agree to submit their conflict to one or more arbitrators who make a binding decision. In the maritime context, arbitration is commonly used to settle disputes arising from maritime contracts, including charter parties, bills of lading, and shipbuilding agreements.


Arbitration in the maritime context provides a private, efficient, and specialized forum for resolving disputes. Maritime arbitration is preferred over litigation because it offers confidentiality, faster resolution, and the expertise of arbitrators who are knowledgeable in maritime law and industry practices. The process involves the selection of one or more arbitrators by the disputing parties, who then conduct hearings, review evidence, and render a binding decision known as an award.

Several international bodies and institutions facilitate maritime arbitration, with the London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA) being one of the most prominent. The LMAA provides a set of rules and a panel of experienced arbitrators to handle maritime disputes. Other notable institutions include the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC).

Arbitration is initiated when parties include an arbitration clause in their contracts or agree to arbitrate a dispute after it has arisen. The arbitration process can be ad hoc, where the parties define the rules and procedures, or institutional, where an arbitration institution administers the proceedings.

Special Considerations

Maritime arbitration often involves complex and technical issues related to international shipping, such as interpretation of charter parties, shipbuilding defects, cargo claims, and collisions. Therefore, the choice of arbitrators with specific maritime expertise is crucial. Additionally, arbitration awards are generally easier to enforce internationally than court judgments, due to conventions like the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

Application Areas

  1. Charter Party Disputes: Resolving conflicts over the terms and performance of charter agreements.
  2. Bill of Lading Issues: Addressing claims related to the carriage of goods by sea, such as delivery, damage, or loss of cargo.
  3. Shipbuilding and Repair Contracts: Settling disputes over construction standards, delays, and defects in shipbuilding and repair projects.
  4. Salvage and Towage: Arbitration of claims arising from salvage operations and towage services.
  5. Marine Insurance Claims: Resolving disputes between insurers and insured parties regarding marine insurance coverage and claims.
  6. Collisions and Casualties: Addressing liability and damages resulting from ship collisions and maritime accidents.

Well-Known Examples

  • London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA): Leading organization providing arbitration services and rules specifically for maritime disputes.
  • Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA): Prominent arbitration institution in Asia specializing in maritime disputes.
  • New York Maritime Arbitrators Association (NYMAR): Offers arbitration services for maritime disputes in the United States.
  • Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC): Provides facilities and services for maritime arbitration in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • China Maritime Arbitration Commission (CMAC): Handles maritime disputes involving Chinese parties and international shipping.

Treatment and Risks

While arbitration offers many advantages, it also presents some challenges and risks:

  • Costs: Arbitration can be expensive due to arbitrators' fees, legal costs, and administrative expenses.
  • Enforcement: While generally easier than court judgments, enforcing arbitration awards can still face obstacles, particularly in jurisdictions that are not signatories to the New York Convention.
  • Finality: Arbitration awards are binding and typically not subject to appeal, which can be a disadvantage if a party believes the decision is flawed.
  • Choice of Arbitrator: The outcome can significantly depend on the arbitrator's expertise and impartiality, making the selection process critical.
  • Complexity: The process can be complex, requiring specialized knowledge and experience in maritime law and practices.

Similar Terms

  • Mediation
  • Litigation
  • Negotiation
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
  • Conciliation



Arbitration in the maritime context is a preferred method for resolving disputes due to its efficiency, confidentiality, and the expertise of arbitrators. It covers a wide range of issues, including charter party disputes, bill of lading claims, shipbuilding contracts, and marine insurance. With prominent institutions like the LMAA, SCMA, and others facilitating the process, maritime arbitration offers a specialized and effective way to settle conflicts outside the traditional court system. However, it also comes with challenges such as costs, enforcement, and the finality of decisions.