An arbitral tribunal is a formal body assembled to assist with an arbitration case, where people attempt to resolve a dispute with a mediated discussion overseen by one or more people appointed to act as adjudicators. These tribunals can vary in size and scope, and typically include attorneys or other legal professionals, as matters of law will come up over the course of the discussion. Depending on the type of arbitration, the findings of the tribunal may be binding, with all parties obliged to abide by their decision.
Sometimes, an arbitral tribunal is associated with a specific institution, hearing cases involving its members. It can also be appointed on behalf of the government or assembled for people who request arbitration as an option for dispute resolution. The number of members varies; sometimes a single person sits on the panel and other times, it is a group. People appearing in front of the panel may have legal representation to assist them with presenting and defending their cases.
The members of an arbitral tribunal hear both sides of the case. They can examine evidence and ask questions and the two sides are allowed to respond to each other in addition to presenting material to the panel. Then, the members weigh the information and attempt to reach a fair judgment, issuing a decision on the basis of the material presented. This can include an arbitration award, where one side is required to pay damages or offer other forms of compensation, such as replacing a product with defective workmanship.
In binding arbitration, whatever decision reached is final, and people cannot take the case to another venue. In other cases, people may decide they did not like the outcome with an arbitral tribunal, and they can choose to take the case to court for another hearing. Binding arbitration clauses are a common inclusion in some types of contracts, where parties to the contract agree to binding arbitration in the event of a dispute and must also agree to allow the other party to select an arbiter.
To sit on an arbitral tribunal, people may need to have some special technical knowledge, in addition to knowing the law. These panels often sit on cases involving professional trades, such as disputes with construction contractors or maritime disputes. In these cases, having professional knowledge of the industry will help people understand the case better and offer a reasonable judgment after considering the information brought forward.