Mediation vs. Arbitration
The terms mediation, arbitration and even reconciliation often get categorized as the same thing; however, this is not the case. According to Oxford Languages, a wing of Oxford University Press, mediation refers to “intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it.” Meanwhile, arbitration is “the use of an arbitrator to settle a dispute.” Even knowing their definitions, these can seem quite similar.
That said, how can you know whether the services of a mediator or an arbitrator would be beneficial in your situation?
In a mediation process, a trained mediator’s goal is to help the disputing participants come to an agreement on their own. Unlike in arbitration, where the arbitrator resolves the dispute, the mediator has no say in the outcome. Mediators remain a neutral party. This can sometimes make mediation emotional rather than purely informative.
The information used throughout the mediation process is up to each person involved. A mediator does not have a say regarding what participants may or may not decide to share. Whether or not they share certain pieces of information is up to the individuals. This is not the case in an arbitration which is done formally and under oath.
The outcome is reached based on the needs of both parties. It usually offers the best chance of maintaining a relationship once the process is over.
Arbitration is not only more formal than mediation, but it is also more binding. As previously mentioned, unlike in mediation, in arbitration, a trained arbitrator is responsible for resolving the dispute. In many ways, the arbitrator acts as a judge. In some countries, judges can even take on roles as mediators or arbitrators after they retire. However, this practice has seen considerable scrutiny.
The arbitrator has the right to do extensive research, if necessary, when it comes to the material used to support each case. This differs from the mediation process, which allows the parties involved to decide the extent to which they share information.
Parties then present their case under oath. This shows how arbitrators have more control over what each party says as they testify. As in mediation, all final decisions are based on the needs of both parties.
There is a lower chance of the participants maintaining a relationship after the arbitration process than after mediation because of the typically “win or lose” result. Unlike mediation, there is little chance of pleasing both parties equally.