Mediation is a negotiating process in which the parties are assisted by a third-party neutral to resolve a dispute. It is an informal, confidential, and flexible process in which the mediator helps the parties to understand the interests of everyone involved, and their practical and legal choices. The goal of the mediation is to reach an amicable resolution for the parties. The role of the mediator is to facilitate the dialogue between the parties in order to reach settlement.
The mediator helps the parties to:
- communicate better,
- explore legal and practical settlement options, and
- reach an acceptable solution of the problem.
The mediator does not decide the solution to the dispute; the parties do. Mediation can result in a legally enforceable contract agreed to, in writing, by the parties.
Arbitration is a process by which a neutral arbitrator renders a decision, called an award, after there has been a presentation of evidence. Like a court trial, arbitration may include representation by counsel, pre-hearing discovery, written briefs, examination of witnesses and oral argument.
Arbitration procedures are flexible and less formal than a court trial. Parties may choose their arbitrator directly which allows them to pick someone with the requisite amount of experience and subject matter expertise to render an accurate award.