Arbitration is a less formal process than going to court to resolve disputes. It involves, usually, one person hired to act as a sort of “private” judge who listens to the evidence of the parties and issues a binding ruling which can later be enforced by the prevailing party who will apply to the court to convert the arbitration “award” into an enforceable judgment. There is usually no right of appeal and the parties must accept as final the ruling of the arbitrator.
The benefits of arbitration are that discovery — the ability of each side to ask written questions of one another and to take oral depositions — is usually very limited and the arbitration hearing happens relatively promptly. (The court system rarely gets cases to trial within a year and it is usually 18 months to two years before a case gets to trial.) Another benefit is that there is finality to the arbitration award and there are no endless appeals that take further years to complete. Also, arbitration can be cost effective because it limits the amount of time that attorneys would otherwise put into ordinary cases in the court system and thus keeps legal fees down. However, it does require paying the arbitrator to handle the matter and that can get into the thousands of dollars for each side to the dispute.
In contrast to arbitration, mediation is a process where the parties are in control if the case settles and the role of the mediator is to essentially facilitate a negotiation between or among the parties to settle the dispute. Mediation, unlike arbitration, is not a binding process and the mediator cannot force any particular resolution on the parties.
Feel free to contact me with questions about your dispute resolution needs.