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Arbitration in Britain and its Empire: Developments and Divergences

Registration for this conference will close on the 19 October 2022.

A symposium at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London
Organised by Francis Boorman (IALS), Christian Burset (Notre Dame) and Catharine MacMillan (King’s College London)

The event will involve two panel discussions relating to the development and changing practices of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution. The symposium will culminate with a plenary lecture. We are especially pleased to announce that the plenary speaker will be Professor James Jaffe of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will give a lecture entitled ‘Crossing Borders, Crossing Cultures: Arbitration in India under the Company Raj and After’. Professor Jaffe has published important research into the history of arbitration in Britain and colonial India. 

The event has arisen out of the arbitration history project based at IALS and will address themes related to arbitration, mediation and access to justice that are of historical interest and contemporary importance. This event will speak to the research interests of Derek Roebuck and Johnny Veeder, in whose memory the history of arbitration project is funded.

An important aspect of this symposium is that we hope it will interest and benefit graduate students and early career researchers.  The symposium will also be of interest to those practising law, particularly arbitrators.

• The event will allow time for further conversations and networking. We hope to have a reasonably priced dinner, for those who wish to attend.

• This event will be held in-person.  Should government or institutional rules prohibit in-person events, the event will be moved online.

Registration Fee (including tea, coffee and a sandwich lunch)

Standard Ticket £35

Student £10 (Please register using your student email address)/Unwaged/Retired.

The background:

Not all disputes in Britain and its Empire were resolved in courts in the period between 1600 and 1900; arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution were commonly employed during this time.  Although scholars have long recognised the importance of dispute resolutions which occurred outside formal court structures, historians and social scientists still struggle to understand these processes.  The frequently informal nature of arbitration has made it hard to identify and even harder to quantify.  These factors have, in turn, impeded efforts both to assess the changing importance of arbitration over time and to assess the relative importance of arbitration within Britain and Empire.  Historiographical silos create further obstacles as the histories of colonial law and of British and imperial arbitration have largely developed independently of each other; each silo provides only a partial view of alternative dispute resolution in Britain and Empire. This symposium will work to overcome these difficulties by bringing together scholars from a range of subfields and disciplinary backgrounds. 

Download full programme (pdf)


IALS is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2022

All welcome- but booking in advance is required.