Those that find themselves involved in a lawsuit and approaching litigation can be faced with the option of participating in alternative dispute resolution. Mediation and arbitration are both considered forms of alternative dispute resolution. These options have been gaining popularity as people attempt to avoid the expense, time and emotional drain that litigation can involve.
The terms mediation and arbitration are commonly confused and many people are not aware of the vast differences between the two. Here is a brief explanation of each proceeding, which will highlight differences between the two:
Mediations are generally conducted before a single mediator who helps facilitate a discussion of the issue at hand and works to find a resolution to the dispute. Mediations are typically used as a non-binding proceeding. Mediation has become gaining popularity and is being used more and more by the courts and individuals. Mediation allows parties to come together in a neutral environment and discuss their position on the particular issue. Those involved in mediation often feel relieved after being provided the opportunity to express their side of the story.
Arbitration is a more formal approach to alternative dispute resolution. Arbitration can be conducted in front of an appointed arbitrator or a panel of three arbitrators agreed upon by both parties. The arbitrator(s) acts as a judge and makes decisions about the evidence and issues a written opinion, which can be binding, or non-binding. Arbitration is less time-consuming and less expensive than arbitration, but typically more expensive than mediation.