Mediation Vs Arbitration: A Side-By-Side Comparison
While Arbitration and Mediation both focus on conflict resolution without involving a court, they differ significantly from one another at the basic level. In a nutshell, Mediation involves a neutral mediator resolving conflicts between different parties, while Arbitration involves a third party as the final decision maker.
Mediation is a method of resolving conflicts without going to a court trial. It involves both parties sitting together and involving a mediator to resolve their conflicts. The key responsibility of the mediator is to highlight the main areas of concern in a conflict and helps both parties reach a fair deal to end the conflict.
Depending on your state, you might be required by law to go into mediation before a court trial. Parties can also voluntarily choose mediation over filing a lawsuit. The court can also order mediation sessions.
The mediator acts as the facilitator of discussions between the opposite parties. Your mediator can highlight the important points in your dispute, ask you a few questions relevant to the case, and can help you find the right resolution options.
If the parties undergoing mediation don’t feel safe sitting next to each other, they can sit in different rooms, and the mediator can act as the middle person to help them strike a deal.
Mediators are skilled enough to provide the involved parties with new ideas for finding a middle ground in any conflict. However, a mediator never suggests anything to you and doesn’t make any decisions.
The role of a mediator is often suitable for senior/ retired lawyers and retired judges. This gives them credibility in conflict resolution because of their experience in the field.
Let’s take a brief look at the benefits of mediation.
- Since mediation doesn’t include court trials and long legal battles, it is usually the most economical and suitable way of settling disputes.
- Mediation only takes a few hours per session and is usually completed within one or two sessions.
- The whole process is confidential.
- The parties can agree on an unconventional settlement and leave monetary goals behind. This allows them to safeguard their interests, which benefits both parties.
- Mediation is cheaper as compared to Arbitration or Litigation.
The process of arbitration is just like litigation, but with the exception that the right of the final decision is handed over to an adjudicator working outside the court. The final decision is made after thoroughly examining the evidence put forward by both parties.
There are only a few differences between litigation and arbitration; one of the key differences is that arbitration uses the services of an adjudicator working outside the court.
Arbitration is usually a part of many contracts and is used as a conflict resolution method in the case of disagreement between parties. Moreover, many parties choose arbitration over litigation, which is to keep the legal case private and confidential.
The arbitrator is always neutral, as both parties are equally involved in choosing the arbitrator. If the parties fail to agree on an arbitrator, another independent person can choose an arbitrator for them.
Arbitrators are always related to the legal field, and your arbitrator might even have arbitrated cases exactly like yours before.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of going into arbitration.
- While mediation can be canceled, arbitration always ends with a settlement. That’s because the arbitrator will certainly give a binding judgment at the end.
- There is some flexibility available in the arbitration process, and the parties can put forward their choices to a certain extent.
- Arbitration is economical as compared to litigation.
- Arbitration can be used in cases where parties want to ensure privacy.
Mediation Vs. Arbitration: Comparison
Let’s draw the difference between Mediation and Arbitration in conflict resolution.
- In mediation, the parties involved in a conflict use the services of a mediator and try to agree on certain terms to resolve the conflict. On the other hand, arbitration is just like going through a private trial. A third party is engaged and provided with the power to settle the dispute by giving a binding judgment. The judgment is delivered after the arbitrator hears both parties.
- Mediation is just like an informal trial, while Arbitration is a serious and formal process. Arbitration is like going through a court trial but with complete privacy.
- Mediation must be conducted only by one mediator. However, a panel of arbitrators can be engaged to settle a big dispute peacefully.
- The outcome of the mediation process is controlled by the parties and isn’t legally binding either. However, arbitrators can easily control the hearing to understand the matter before delivering a legally binding sentence.
- Mediation can end without conflict resolution, but arbitration always ends in dispute settlement.
- Mediation ends with a deal, and arbitration ends with a decision made by the arbitrator.
- Mediation requires cooperation from both parties, while Arbitration works just like litigation and involves the parties opposing each other.
- The mediator in a mediation facilitates negotiations. But in arbitration, the arbitrator takes on the role of a judge.
- Mediation involves joint sessions and private talks between the third party and the conflicting parties. In arbitration, no such meetings are allowed, and the arbitrator stays completely neutral.
- Mediation takes the interests of both parties as its priority. However, arbitration doesn’t necessarily end with a positive decision for both parties, and the decision is handed out based on the evidence put in front of the arbitrator.
While the main goal of mediation and arbitration is the same (conflict resolution), both achieve their goal in different ways. Before you and the opposing party choose between a mediator and arbitrator, you should consider the factors involved and the potential consequences.
Choosing the right mediator and/ or arbitrator is the key to ensuring success in conflict resolution without litigation.