The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators is drawing up a panel of arbitrators and mediators to oversee marine disputes
The fees will be considerably lower than those paid in so-called ad-hoc tribunals which hear disputes arising out of commercial contracts. Letters were sent to select counsel in mid-April, inviting them to join the panel. Three have accepted to date - Jonathan Lyne and Nigel Meeson QC of 4 Essex Court, and Jervis Kay QC of Stone Chambers. The institute already has a panel that handles marine disputes, but the new panel, known as a default panel, will handle disputes which parties agree to take to arbitration or mediation for the first time once a dispute arises. The manager of the institute's dispute resolution department Gregory Hunt said: "The mediators' and arbitrators' fees on this panel will be much less than those outside our schemes. Ad-hoc disputes cost £300 per hour regardless of the dispute." All mediators' salaries in this scheme remain at a fixed rate of £60 per hour and cannot rise above £700 for a whole mediation. Arbitrators handling disputes valued at up to £15,000 are paid £150 an hour and their fees cannot rise above a total of £1,500. Fees for cases worth £15,000-£50,000 rise to £200 an hour with a limit of 12.5 per cent of the case's value. That increases to £250 an hour for cases worth £50,000-plus, with the same percentage threshold. Members of the British Marine Federation and the Royal Yachting Association will be able to resolve disputes before the new arbitrators and mediators. Hunt said: "There have been occasions when the [ad-hoc marine] tribunal has not been the best qualified for dealing with these disputes and when expert evidence has not been given to its best effect." The institute has also issued letters inviting experts to join the new panel, which is due to be launched on Wednesday (1 May).