Arbitration Knowhow from James Clanchy FCIArb. London based arbitrator in independent practice

Arbitration Knowhow article

Arbitration statistics

Commercial arbitration is a matter of choice. It is also confidential. Statistics are essential for an understanding of what works.

Lies, damned lies and arbitration statistics.

Find more articles on related arbitration topics on my Arbitration Knowhow page.

Arbitration statistics

Commercial arbitration is a matter of choice. It is also confidential. Statistics are essential for an understanding of what works and of what drives parties elsewhere but it can be challenging to find and collate them.

During boom times for arbitral institutions, often coinciding with economic downturns, data is shared freely. Not so when their numbers decline.

In his Alexander Lecture for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 2015, Johnny Veeder QC wisely said, “In order better to defend and explain arbitration to others, we need more reliable statistical data for what users, arbitrators and courts actually do in regard to arbitration, particularly users.”

During my four years as Registrar and Deputy Director General of the LCIA (2008-2012), in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, I was fascinated by the growth in the institution’s caseload, which business sectors it came from, which regions of the world, and what motivated parties to choose the LCIA instead of other institutions, their trade associations or ad hoc arbitration.

I was surprised by how little some users of the LCIA knew about arbitrations outside the institutions. Unfortunately, big law firms, the arbitration press and university law schools have done little to assist in dispelling myths. A professor of international arbitration once told me that maritime arbitration could not be important because they had never met a maritime arbitrator at any of the international conferences which they attended, a remark which troubled me on a number of levels. Interesting and helpful as they undoubtedly are, surveys conducted among lawyers in the orbits of big law firms and universities necessarily reflect their limited horizons, assumptions and affinity biases. However, the reports on such surveys have been treated as empirical and even as containing reliable statistical data on such matters as the use of different sets of arbitral rules. Their results are cited in academic articles, which are then cited in others, turning them into factoids, a phenomenon known as the Woozle effect. See my LexisNexis Blog posts on the silo effect in arbitration and on arbitration statistics and alternative facts.

At LexisNexis UK in 2016-2022, I was privileged to work on arbitral statistics. In 2018 I compiled my first analysis of caseload data from major institutions and from the London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA) which publishes rules for the conduct of ad hoc arbitrations. I found that, contrary to rhetoric at that time, institutional arbitration was not growing and that ad hoc arbitration was alive and well. My analysis was republished as a LexisNexis Blog post and became the first in a series of annual posts on this topic. As a member of LexisNexis’s Consulting Editorial Board for arbitration, responsible for oversight of statistics content, I have continued to compile these annual analyses since becoming a full-time arbitrator.

Links to the full series of my LexisNexis Blog posts on statistics are below:

2018: Arbitration statistics – a reality check

2019: London bucks downwards trends

2020: rise of the sole arbitrator

2021: from sole arbitrators to no arbitrators

2022: from sole arbitrators to sole arbitrations

2023: ad hoc strengthens as institutions recede

Click the link below to download James Clanchy's CV as a PDF.