The Differences Between Arbitration and Mediation

Arbitration and mediation are both examples of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that are handled outside of the courtroom.

Mediation can be used in many areas of the law, including divorce, personal injury and other litigation, property disputes, and more. While mediators have no power to resolve or decide a dispute, they often succeed in settling disputes on terms agreeable to all sides.

Arbitration can also be used to resolve disputes in any area of the law, but the parties must agree in writing to resolve their dispute by way of arbitration because the outcome will be legally binding upon them. In other words, you don’t get to arbitration unless there’s a written contract that provides for it, whether that contract was signed before or after the dispute arose.

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A mediator—essentially a neutral third party approved by both sides—has no power to impose a solution in a dispute. Both sides retain the right to approve or disapprove of the suggested resolution. Mediation can be done informally and on short notice, so it can be a cheaper, more efficient way to resolve a dispute.

Mediators meet with the parties to hear an overview of the dispute and then meet privately with each party to obtain detailed information on the nature of dispute, determine how far apart the parties are, and then develop a proposed solution.  Mediations can be held anywhere the parties agree upon, including outdoors or at the location of the dispute in question.

An arbitrator, conversely, does have the power to independently decide the dispute or the specific issues the parties have agreed to resolve by arbitration. He or she is effectively the equivalent of a private judge who hears evidence, takes testimony, swears in witnesses, reviews exhibits and other forms of evidence, and then issues an award.

That award can be confirmed in Superior Court and turned into a judgment, and can only be appealed under a narrow set of circumstances.

Mediation and arbitration are both cost-effective alternatives to litigating a dispute in Connecticut Superior Court because each is faster and generally less expensive than fully litigating a given case in court through to judgment.

Cramer & Anderson’s team of attorneys have deep experience with both mediation and arbitration in a broad range of practice areas. Contact me using the button below, or call our flagship office in New Milford at (860) 355-2631 to connect with an attorney to address your specific situation.