People often interchange or confuse mediation and arbitration. Both are methods of resolving disputes, outside of the courtroom.
Mediation is a facilitated negotiation, which will only result in the resolution of a dispute if the parties are able to reach a consensus, with the assistance of a trained mediator. If the parties are not able to reach a consensus, a resolution will never be imposed by the mediator.
Arbitration, on the other hand, involves placing the decision making authority in the hands of a trained arbitrator. Like a court action, there will always be a resolution at the end of arbitration, and the parties are bound by the decision of the arbitrator, subject to rights of appeal that the parties have been agreed upon in advance.
There are many benefits to using an alternative to Court litigation to resolve disputes. These include:
- The parties to the dispute are able to choose the method of dispute resolution that is most appropriate to their case. Family law disputes are often referred to mediation because it is important that the parties maintain a working relationship after their dispute is resolved. Estate disputes are also often resolved by way of mediation. Commercial disputes may be more appropriately referred to arbitration.
- The timing of the process is controlled by the parties, rather than the availability of limited court resources. As a result, the costs of mediation and arbitration are often less than legal fees for protracted Court litigation.
- The process is private and confidential. This may be desirable whether the dispute is family related or business related. With limited exceptions, court proceedings are open to the public.
- The parties choose their own mediator or arbitrator. You do not choose the Judge who will decide your case in Court.
Regardless of whether you choose mediation or arbitration, it is worth considering all of your options, if you find yourself involved in a dispute that requires resolution.