What is arbitration?

In short, arbitration is the administration of justice by arbitrators. Average arbitration takes approximately nine months from request to final award. Awards are binding on all parties. Arbitration replaces proceedings before the court.

Arbitration agreement

An arbitration agreement is required if one is to submit a dispute to arbitrators for settlement. This arbitration agreement may be included in an arbitration clause of a contract. In that clause, the parties agree to submit any future disputes to arbitration. The Court of Arbitration for Art has created a recommended clause for this purpose. If a dispute arises and the parties have not yet arranged for arbitration, they may do so as yet. The arbitration agreement is then laid down in a submission agreement.

The following arbitration clause is recommended:

All disputes, claims, controversies, and disagreements arising in connection with the present agreement, or further agreements resulting therefrom, shall be settled in accordance with the CAfA Arbitration Rules, consisting of the Arbitration Rules of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute supplemented and modified by the AiA/NAI Adjunct Arbitration Rules.

Advantages CAfA Arbitration

It is fast. Proceedings before a Court may take up a lot of time. The aim of arbitration, more specific NAI arbitration, is to provide users a faster, but solid, alternative.

Arbitration is confidential. The proceedings that are administrated by the NAI are all handled strictly confidential.

Expert arbitrators can be appointed.

The clause can be included in both national and international agreements.

Relatively cheap. If you compare the costs of regular court proceedings to the costs of arbitration, arbitration may seem higher at first glance. However, if you take into account that there is only one instance the costs may be a lot lower.

Execution of an arbitral award is, due to the New York Convention, in most cases easier than an award from a foreign court.

Administration by the NAI. The NAI has experience with the administration of both domestic and international arbitrations since 1949. The NAI is impartial, independent and a non-profit organisation.

Arbitration is customised. The parties are given ample time to present their points of view, also at a hearing.

Administration / NAI’s role

As an independent foundation with proven experience, the Netherlands Arbitration Institute administers arbitration under the CAfA Arbitration Rules. The NAI may only perform this task if the arbitration agreement refers to the CAfA Arbitration Rules.


Since all proceedings are customised, it is not possible to provide a detailed cost estimate in advance. A more detailed description can be found under Arbitration - Costs.


In order to initiate arbitral proceedings, a request for CAfA arbitration must be submitted to the NAI Secretariat. The request is to be submitted by e-mail (, unless submission by e-mail is impossible for the requesting party. Attachments must be sent along by e-mail. The request may be brief and it is not tied to a particular format. However, certain particulars must be mentioned in the request and a copy of the arbitration agreement must have been added to the request. Besides, you can use the download request form; however, it is not mandatory for the parties to use this form. It is also possible to file a request for arbitration online.

Course of the proceedings

Following receipt of the request for arbitration, the Netherlands Arbitration Institute sends it to the respondent by e-mail, who is given the opportunity to submit a short answer within fourteen days. The respondent sends the short answer to the NAI by e-mail, unless this is impossible for the respondent.

After the arbitrator(s) has/have been appointed, the claimant and respondent are given the opportunity to present a statement of claim and a statement of defence, respectively, possibly followed by a second exchange of statements.

Then the oral hearing takes place, in which the parties and/or counsel may further argue their positions.


After the hearing, the award is laid down in writing (if three arbitrators have been appointed, following their deliberation). The parties or their counsel receive a copy of the award from the Netherlands Arbitration Institute. The arbitral award granted in this way is binding on all parties.

An arbitral award may be easily declared enforceable under the New York Convention. An arbitral award thereby obtains the same force as a court judgment.

Summary arbitral proceedings

Summary arbitral proceedings are comparable to summary proceedings before a court. Summary proceedings result in provisional relief rather than in a final decision on the merits. Summary proceedings may be requested without any proceedings on the merits having been commenced (independent summary arbitral proceedings) and during pending proceedings. The NAI ensures that arbitrators in summary proceedings make an award within a very brief time-limit. The NAI Administrator appoints the arbitrator within one working day after receipt of the request for the summary proceedings. When inviting the arbitrator, the NAI ascertains that the arbitrator has sufficient time to complete the proceedings in full within a month and, if necessary, within a much shorter period of time. If a case needs to be handled at very short notice, the case will be handled at very short notice and the NAI Administrator will appoint an arbitrator who, considering the interests of all parties, is able to render an award as soon as possible.

The NAI does not offer separately arranged expedited arbitration, i.e. an expedited decision on a dispute. It is, however, possible to expedite arbitral proceedings by reducing certain time-limits or omitting certain steps in the process. This may be laid down in the arbitration clause or agreed by the parties after the dispute has arisen.