There are two effective forms of alternative dispute resolution: Arbitration and Mediation. Being aware of the significant differences between Arbitration and Mediation will allow you to determine which form is best for your case.
First, the impact of Arbitration and Mediation differ. In Arbitration, the third-party neutral, the arbitrator, makes a binding decision on behalf of the parties. Parties to the arbitration are bound by the decision even if they dislike the outcome, since it is extremely difficult to appeal the arbitrator’s decision. In contrast, in Mediation, the third-party neutral, the mediator, facilitates the parties in negotiating the terms of an agreement. Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator does not make a decision on behalf of the parties. If the parties cannot agree on any issue, an agreement is not reached, the mediator will declare an impasse, and the case may have to go to trial.
Second, there is a significant difference in formality. Although both Arbitration and Mediation take place outside of Atlanta courtrooms, Arbitration has formal rules of procedure and evidence that must be followed. However, in Mediation, there is no set procedure for conducting a mediation session. In fact, the parties may show any document or item to the mediator that they wish to be considered.
Lastly, in Arbitration, there may be more than one arbitrator involved in the hearing. It is not uncommon for a panel of three arbitrators to rule on a matter. In some cases, each party will select an arbitrator, and then the two arbitrators will select the third arbitrator. On the other hand, in Mediation, generally, there is a single mediator who assists the parties in negotiating a settlement.