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An arbitrator is an impartial third party who facilitates conflict negotiations between employers and employees or unions and employers, during legal proceedings called arbitration.

Arbitrators may be lawyers, but frequently the parties involved choose an arbitrator for his expertise in the subject matter of their dispute, for example, architects, engineers and the like, who sometimes have little or no formal legal training and experience. Arbitrators, however, need to be thoroughly familiar with, and experienced in, the law and practice of arbitration, the rules of evidence and procedure, the laws of contract and delict, and basic legal principles.

Arbitrators solve disputes between labour and management to bind both to specific terms and conditions of labour contract. They conduct hearings to evaluate the contentions of parties regarding the disputed contract provisions. They analyze the information obtained, using knowledge of the facts in issue and industry practices. They render binding decisions to settle the dispute, protect public interests, prevent employee wage loss, and minimise business interruptions. They issue a report concerning the results of arbitration.

Arbitrators may do some or all of the following:
receive an application from the parties requesting arbitration, organise a time for the parties to meet for arbitration, listen to submissions made by the parties, consider any written information provided by the parties, inspect premises to gather more information, make decisions that are legally binding, settle disputes and record the decision in writing.

Satisfying Aspects
- exciting and challenging career
- working with different types of people
- normal office hours
- contributing to a company’s success
- obtaining positive results when dealing with labour-related issues

Demanding aspects
- working with angry employees and difficult employers
- having to try to resolve deadlocked situations
- being held responsible for unsatisfactory outcomes

- be able to speak and write effectively
- be able to cope with conflicting points of view
- be able to cope under pressure
- be mature and have a well-balanced personality
- have a persuasive, congenial personality
- be capable of objective and dispassionate judgement
- be able to work well with all types of people

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course, or diploma requirements for a diploma course.

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, English
Recommended Subjects: one of the sciences, languages

Degree or diploma including subjects such as Business Management, Accounting, Law, Labour Relations, Sociology, Psychology.

- government departments
- local government
- medium-sized and larger organisations
- self-employment

Association of Arbitrators (Southern Africa)
3rd Floor, Sandown House,
Norwich Close (off 5th Street),
Sandton, 2196
P O Box 653141
Benmore, 2010
Tel: (011) 884-9164/5 Fax: (011) 884-9167