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Grievance arbitration in Bermuda: Principles of arbitration and implications for higher education

Millard Dwayne Thompson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study explored, through qualitative methodology, the perceptions of arbitrators, attorneys, human resource managers, and labor relations professionals relative to the arbitral process in Bermuda. A central question afforded direction to the study: What internal and/or external mechanisms are utilized by corporations in determining disputes amongst their various constituents, and how can corporate dispute resolution strategy inform higher education policy development? ^ Data were obtained using structured interviews and elite interviews with 11 study participants selected via purposeful sampling, representing insurance/reinsurance, the Civil Service, higher education, retail, trade unionism, and the legal fraternity. In addition to the in-depth interviews, data were obtained through examination of documentary evidence, including 19 arbitral awards subject to judicial review by the Bermuda Supreme Court or by the English High Court between 1995 and 2005, to ensure triangulation of findings. ^ Inductive data analysis yielded six empirical assertions sanctioned through evidentiary warrants: (a) Commercial arbitration processes diverge from employment dispute resolution processes, (b) Procedural detail and specificity characterize the model arbitration clause, (c) Modern grievance arbitration is not unlike court litigation, (d) Systemic challenges impact the efficacy of Employment Tribunal function, (e) Privacy and confidentiality are enshrined in British arbitration, and (f) Contemporary challenges threaten the traditional arbitral construct. ^ Although developments had, to some degree, lessened the appeal of arbitration as an expeditious form of alternative dispute resolution in Bermuda, most participants evinced satisfaction with the arbitral process nevertheless. The study concluded that arbitration was the preferred dispute resolution machinery within the commercial enterprise, particularly with reference to Bermuda's insurance/reinsurance industry; however, there was no demonstrable evidence of a propensity toward arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement in determination of employment disputes in Bermuda. ^ Five arbitral core principles unearthed by the study, when considered in the context of higher education policy development, proffered a sound rationale for inclusion of detailed arbitration clauses within employment and commercial substantive contracts, principally the substantive contracts of institutions positioned within remote island communities.^

Subject Area

Law|Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Thompson, Millard Dwayne, "Grievance arbitration in Bermuda: Principles of arbitration and implications for higher education" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3251359.