Mediation Arbitration Litigation
Private records Private records Public records
Non-binding Binding Binding
Any evidence allowed Any evidence allowed Limited evidence allowed
Both parties present their side of the story and the facts of the case Expert is a neutral third-party
Expert helps the parties decide on a fair outcome Expert is the decider of the case Expert explains the facts to the judge or jury
Low cost Low cost Moderate to high cost
Low to Moderate time Low to Moderate time Moderate to high time

Mediators do not issue orders, find fault, or make determinations. Instead, mediators help parties to reach a settlement by assisting with communications, obtaining relevant information, and developing options. Although mediation procedures may vary, the parties usually first meet together with the mediator informally to explain their views of the dispute. Often the mediator will then meet with each party separately. The mediator discusses the dispute with them, and explores with each party possible ways to resolve it.

Arbitration is generally a more formal process than mediation. An arbitrator could be a retired judge, a senior lawyer or an expert/consultant. During arbitration, both parties are given an opportunity to present their cases to the arbitrator. Much like a regular court proceeding, lawyers can also question witnesses from both sides. The arbitrator has the power to render a legally binding decision which both parties must honor and the award is enforceable in the courts.

Alternative Dispute Resolution