Arbitration vs Mediation
In some types of lawsuits, the parties are encouraged to try and resolve issues outside of court. That way, only contentious cases go to trial. If that is the case, the court will suggest either arbitration or mediation to the named parties. These two processes have a common goal but are very different in terms of how they work.
What Is the Difference Between Arbitration and Mediation
In order to understand the difference between the two, we need to understand how arbitration and mediation work.
Arbitration is an informal court process where a legal professional or industry professional will allow both parties to present evidence and interview witnesses. The process happens in a similar manner to a trial, and each party can have lawyers. The only court professionals involved in arbitration are the person presiding and a court stenographer to keep a record. The process is usually held in a meeting room rather than court. The decision made during arbitration is legally binding and can be appealed, similar to a decision made in court. If one of the parties does not follow the decision, then they can be sued in court.
Mediation is a meeting where all parties will sit down with a neutral third party who facilitates a discussion. They will use conflict resolution techniques to allow each side to discuss their side of the story and why there are issues. The first mediation session will involve both parties coming together to talk, but there may be future sessions where the mediator works with parties one on one in order to discuss specific issues. During mediation, the goal is to get both parties to come to an agreement. The mediator will present options, but any decisions made during mediation are not legally binding. Depending on the type of case, both parties may sign a contract at the end of mediation in order to move forward with the agreed-upon changes.
Why Will a Court Order Arbitration or Mediation?
Arbitration or mediation often come before a trial. This gives both parties a chance to talk out the issues and resolve some or all of the issues before trial. It is recommended in cases where there may be a lot of emotion involved, such as employment law cases and family law cases. The process of arbitration or mediation allows both parties to discuss the issues in a productive manner and not tie up the resources of the court.
If you can solve a case through mediation, it will be far faster than the arbitration process and certainly faster than going to trial. Litigation can be extremely time consuming and it can be months or even a year before you get your day in court. Arbitration is quicker than litigation, but it can still take a while to resolve a case.
Some cases may involve both mediation and arbitration. Mediation may help solve only a few parts of the lawsuit or may have removed only the squabbling but not resolved the legal issue.