Mediation is where a neutral individual helps parties reach a voluntary settlement of their dispute. The Mediator cannot force parties to settle or make a binding decision for the parties.
Arbitration is where a neutral individual renders a decision after hearing testimony, arguments and reviewing evidence submitted by the parties. The Arbitrator acts like a Judge in a traditional court proceeding and rules how the dispute should be resolved.
Arbitration can be binding or non-binding based on the parties’ agreement. If non-binding, the parties can use the Arbitrator’s decision to guide them in deciding whether to settle or proceed to litigation. If binding, the parties can enroll the ruling in court to enforce it.
In many circumstances, Mediation or Arbitration is a less costly and less time consuming alternative to court proceedings.