What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a private process in which an independent third party is appointed to decide the outcome of a dispute between two or more parties.

Parties agree under contract to use arbitration to resolve a legal complaint as an alternative to court. An independent legal expert (an arbitrator) acts in a similar manner to a judge to provide a legal ruling on your case.

Arbitration is governed and recognised by statute and is binding and final. This means that the parties are obligated to abide by the arbitrator’s ruling and the same case cannot be further pursued in court unless it is to appeal the arbitrator’s decision. However, the grounds of appeal are limited.

What is the IPSO arbitration scheme?

The IPSO arbitration scheme allows you to make a legal claim against titles participating in the scheme. You can make a claim related  to libel, slander, malicious falsehood, misuse of private information, breach of confidence, harassment and data protection.

Can I pursue a complaint and an arbitration claim at the same time?

No. IPSO cannot process an arbitration claim whilst a complaint relating to the same issue is ongoing. IPSO reserves the right to close a complaint if you decide to pursue a legal claim relating to the same issue, regardless of whether that claim is pursued via arbitration.

How does IPSO's arbitration scheme work?

In order to use the arbitration scheme you must obtain agreement to arbitrate the claim from the publisher. You can seek this agreement by approaching the publisher directly or by asking IPSO to refer your claim via the IPSO arbitration process.

Whichever pathway you take, you will need to obtain an arbitration reference number and a corresponding claim form from IPSO to complete the agreement process.

You will need to be able to detail the legal basis of your claim and supply any documentation or evidence upon which you seek to rely in order to advance your claim.

For most claims you will need to pay an administrative fee and potentially a share of the arbitrator’s fees. These fees are detailed here, and are only payable after you agree to arbitrate with the publisher. You should be prepared to cover the costs of any legal advice or representation you seek.

How much does it cost?

In order for an arbitrator to be appointed and provide a preliminary ruling you will be required to pay an administrative fee of £300 +VAT.

If you decide to continue to a final ruling you will be required to pay a final ruling fee of £2500 +VAT.

If you decide to hold an oral hearing further fees may apply, however the vast majority of claims will not require an oral hearing.

Do I need a lawyer to pursue arbitration?

You do not have to use a lawyer but arbitration does require you to advance a legal argument and pursue a claim within a legal framework. Whilst the arbitrator can act to balance an inequality of knowledge or expertise between the parties you may feel that legal advice or representation is beneficial.

It is your responsibility to assess whether or not you need legal advice or representation and to obtain that advice or representation should you decide you need it. Unfortunately IPSO is unable to give you legal advice relating to your claim.

What if the publisher does not want to arbitrate?

Both parties must voluntarily agree to arbitrate.

Without agreement, the arbitration process will not be available for your claim. In these circumstances you may wish to pursue other legal pathways or ask IPSO about making a complaint under the Editors' Code

Are there financial risks?

You will be asked to pay an administrative fee and, where the claim goes for a final ruling, a share of the arbitrator’s costs in order to pursue arbitration. These fees can ordinarily be recovered if your claim is successful (i.e. your claim is upheld and the relief granted by the arbitrator is more favourable than an offer previously made by the publisher).

If you engage a lawyer you will have to pay your lawyer’s fees, but may recover a small amount of these costs from the publisher if your claim is successful.

Regardless of the success of your claim you may also recover some fees and costs if the publisher’s conduct warrants such an order.

If your claim is dismissed you will not ordinarily be asked to pay the publisher’s fees or costs, unless your conduct warrants such an order. However, the arbitrator may strike out the claim if they believe it to be wholly without merit, trivial, frivolous or vexatious. If your claim is struck out you will be required to refund to the publisher their fees. In addition to this, the arbitrator shall have the discretion to award some of the publisher’s legal costs against you if the claim is struck out.

If you decide to withdraw after the arbitrator has been appointed to your claim, you may be required to pay some or all of the publisher’s fees and legal costs.

The scheme rules detail the costs and financial risks associated with arbitration in more detail.

What outcomes are available?

If your claim is upheld as part of a final ruling the arbitrator can generally grant the same relief as a court. In particular, the arbitrator can

  • require the publisher to pay you damages (up to £50,000)
  • require the publisher not to re-publish the information or the words which are the subject of the claim
  • require the publisher to remove the information or the words which are the subject of the claim from the publisher’s website or other online platforms over which the publisher has control
  • require the publisher to use all reasonable endeavours to secure the removal of the information or words which are the subject of the claim from third party websites and/or other online platforms
  • require the delivery or destruction of offending material
  • require the publisher to desist from the conduct which is the subject of the claim
  • direct the publisher to publish a summary of the arbitrator’s final ruling in claims for defamation.

Arbitrators cannot grant pre-publication injunctions, or exemplary or aggravated damages.

Can I change my mind after I've signed an arbitration agreement?

If you want to withdraw your claim you can do so at any point of the process.

However, depending on the stage at which this is done you may have to refund to the publisher some of their fees and/or costs.

You will not be able to recover the fees which you have already paid if you choose to withdraw after an arbitrator is appointed to your claim. You will remain bound by any ruling already given by the arbitrator if you chose to withdraw.

How long will a claim take?

The time taken to resolve a dispute within the arbitration scheme will largely depend upon the complexity of the claim and the level of party engagement with the process.

In general the arbitrator will aim to complete claims within 90 days of their appointment.

IPSO will make the pre-appointment process as efficient as possible.

Will I have to attend an oral hearing to arbitrate?

No. In general the arbitrator will give a ruling based on written arguments only. You may agree with the publisher to hold an oral hearing if necessary, however this may require both parties to pay further fees. You cannot be compelled to use an oral hearing for your claim.

Is my claim suitable for arbitration?

The suitability of arbitration will largely depend upon the circumstances of each claim.

IPSO arbitration, being a fixed-cost and streamlined process, will generally not be suitable if the claim is particularly complex, requires a large amount of disclosure or disclosure from a number of third parties, there is a public interest in having the claim heard in court, or the claim is likely to take a long time to resolve.

Section 9 of the scheme rules detail the process by which an arbitrator will assess the suitability of claims, however it is for you in the first instance to consider whether arbitration is right for your claim.

Can I arbitrate with a no win no fee agreement?

The Rules do not preclude you and your lawyer from agreeing to a no win no fee agreement, or CFA. However, in order to make the scheme cost effective for both parties, the Arbitration Agreement requires you to agree not to recover success fees or insurance premiums from the publisher (a common feature of such agreements) so you will need to discuss this with your lawyer before agreeing to arbitrate.

Which titles are participating in the scheme?

Download a list of titles

How is arbitration different to IPSO's complaints process?

IPSO's complaints process allows complaints under the Editors’ Code to be made to IPSO about any regulated publication, free of charge, and without the need for any agreement. IPSO member publishers are obligated to engage with these complaints and they may result in IPSO’s Complaints Committee requiring the publication to publish its adjudication or a correction.

Arbitration is a process which allows legal claims to be made against a participating publisher and may result in legal remedy, including damages. Both parties will be required to agree to the arbitration process and will be required to pay fees. 

Who will the arbitrator be?

Download a list of scheme arbitrators

Where can I find the documents I need?

All documents related to the scheme, including the inquiry form and arbitration agreement form are available here

How can I get more advice?

IPSO is not able to provide legal advice relating to your claim. For further explanation of the scheme, you can contact

What can the arbitration scheme take claims about?

IPSO arbitration is available for claims relating to legal matters on the following topics:

The publication of certain statements that cause you harm:

  • Defamation (Libel and Slander)
  • Malicious Falsehood

The publication or use of information that is confidential or private:

  • Breach of Confidence
  • Misuse of Private Information
  • Data Protection

The unacceptable behaviour of journalists or photographers:

  • Harassment

Further details on these are available here

I live in Scotland. Can I use the IPSO arbitration scheme?

Due to the differences in Scottish law, the participating publishers have chosen not to include their Scotland-only publications as part of the pilot. However, if you live in Scotland and want to make an arbitration claim against a participating title you are able to do so via the scheme.