Chances are you have heard the terms “mediation” and “arbitration”. They are somewhat similar. In fact, in California, each of these is an alternative dispute resolution form. There is, however, a great distinction between these two legal processes.
If you’re involved in a conflict that you would like to have resolved without going to trial, then probably you will employ one of these forms. It’s essential to know the difference between them since that might limit the amount of sway you have in the outcome and your possible recourse afterward.
A Mediator negotiates a settlement
To understand mediation, imagine there are two parties who made an agreement that is not working out. Perhaps this is a married couple or individuals involved in a work contract. They want to dissolve the relationship, though each has certain issues they want to resolve in a particular way. This is where a mediator serves as a negotiator. The mediator’s goal is that each person each party successfully comes away with a sense of closure.
An arbitrator is much more like a judge
While there is a degree of individual give and take in a case of arbitration, the arbitrator is the person who listens to each side present its arguments and then ultimately without negotiation makes a final determination. Arbitrators are not necessarily interested in the satisfaction of both parties as mediators are.
Recently, businesses have placed the requirement to use binding arbitration to settle disputes in their contracts. This practice virtually always serves the purposes of the business. California has taken legal steps to prevent companies from using binding arbitration agreements with employees.