Why choose ABTA | Travel Information | Here to help | Protection Checklist


Arbitration is a quick, low-cost alternative to court action. With arbitration a third party (the Arbitrator) hears both sides of a dispute and makes a decision to resolve the issue. All arbitrators are impartial and their decision is legally binding on both sides, so you won’t be able to go to court if you’re unhappy with the decision.

Arbitration is designed to deal with claims for general compensation arising from breach of contract and/or negligence. If such a general compensation claim includes an element of minor illness or personal injury then this can also be considered by the Arbitrator, although for this specific element the Arbitrator can’t award more than £1,000 per person. The scheme can’t be used for disputes concerning serious personal injury, serious illness, nervous shock, death or the consequences of any of these. A separate scheme is available for this kind of dispute.

Please note that before you can apply for arbitration you need to have sent copies of your correspondence to our Consumer Affairs department so that we can register your complaint. We’ll read your case and respond to you, sending you a unique ABTA reference number (e.g. BD/123456). You’ll need to quote this number when you apply for arbitration.

Claims are handled by professional arbitrators and the process is entirely independent of ABTA.


When the Arbitrator has been appointed they’ll set out their Award. Within the Award it will state whether the claim succeeds or fails. If the claim is successful they will state the amount that has been awarded.

If the Arbitrator awards an amount equal to or less than has been previously been offered then they normally direct that the Claimant refunds the Respondent an amount equal to the Respondents registration fee. Similarly if they award more than has been previously been offered then they can direct the Respondent to refund the Claimants registration fee along with the Award.


Amount claimed   Fee payable (inc. VAT)
£1.00 - £3,000 = £72.85
£3,001 - £5,000 = £98.70
£5,001 - £10,000 = £129.25
£10,001 - £25,000 = £164.50


Any party can ask for a review of the Arbitrator’s decision, although there are limited grounds on which this can be challenged. If you wish to do so:

Information about the arbitration scheme, including the rules and guidance notes, can be found on the C.I.A. website at www.arbitrators.org/abta/index.asp

Arbitration vs Court Action

If a claim is brought via the County Court, both sides will have to attend and judgement will be made on the arguments put forward. Please note that within the Court Civil Procedure Rules a judge can ask whether any other dispute resolution has been considered. If it hasn’t then they can direct both parties to look at other ways to resolve the dispute, such as arbitration, and can postpone the court case for up to one month while you explore this. This ultimately can lead to further delays and loss of your court fee.


Last updated 18 May 2006

© Association of British Travel Agents