Q: Is an arbitration panel or trade court included in the prohibition against litigating in civil court?
A: This depends on the nature of the arbitration panel. If the panel is bound by law to rule based on their best understanding of civil law, it is also included in the prohibition. However, it is permissible to adjudicate before an arbitration panel, even of non-Jews, which arbitrates based on their common sense of fairness and justice (Shach 22:15; Nesivos 22:14; Minchas Pitim, Shiyurei Minchah 68:10).
Furthermore, some allow summoning a litigant to adjudicate before a trade court in a trade that has its own court, which judges based on the commercial practices of that trade, such as the diamond industry — especially if the agreed trade practices of that industry are commonly accepted. Some also allow adjudicating willingly before non-Jewish tradesmen who are well versed in the customs of that trade, but one cannot summon another to appear before them (Maharshach 2:229).