To compress the long and varied history of arbitration into 30 pages is not something which could be achieved in any way useful to the readers of the present volume. This sketch lays no claims to scholarship or comprehensiveness, its purpose being only to prepare the ground for the essays which follow of a particular kind of arbitration, to which the distinguished contributors bring the fruits of their lifetimes of practical experience. Notwithstanding the title, the reader will not find here a brief history of arbitration, using the word in its generic sense. Even the written records date back for at least 2,500 years, and some forms of pacific dispute resolution by an impartial third party must be much older than this. A full and scholarly account is well overdue,1 but when it arrives it will be very long, containing much of no immediate relevance to present day problems and practices. To set the scene for the other essays in this volume attention will therefore be concentrated on the past halfcentury, not only for neatness but also because the types of arbitration have been transformed more radically and abruptly in all their respects since the early 1950s than in their entire recorded history.