What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

Mediation and arbitration are both ways of resolving a dispute out-of-court. Yet, they work in very different ways.

Let us start with mediation.

Often, mediation is a voluntary process, meaning both sides to a dispute agree to go to a mediation. In addition, it is becoming commonplace for a court to order parties in a lawsuit to first try mediation.

When parties go to mediation, the lawyers for each side will agree upon a person to serve as a mediator. The mediator is usually a lawyer or a retired judge.

The role of the mediator is not to decide who should win or lose. Instead, the mediator will attempt to help the parties find common ground and enter into a settlement.

A mediator cannot force the parties to settle. That decision belongs to the parties.

Usually, the mediator will meet with the parties and their lawyers in the same room. The mediator will explain the purpose of mediation and the mediator’s role.

At that point, the mediator will ask one side to leave and go into a separate room. The mediator will then begin meeting alone with each side to discuss the case.

The mediator will talk about weaknesses in your case. You may get the feeling that the mediator is taking the other party’s side. That is not the case. You can be sure the mediator is doing the same thing to the other side.

If the parties agree to settle, a simple settlement agreement will be drawn up and signed by the parties.

How does arbitration differ?

Sometimes, parties will agree to voluntarily arbitrate their differences after the dispute arises.

In most instances, however, arbitration occurs because the parties previously entered into a contract and agreed to arbitrate if a dispute later arises.

The person selected as an arbitrator acts like a judge. Unlike a mediator, the arbitrator’s role is to make rulings and decide who wins.

Arbitration proceeds in a matter similar to being in court. When the case goes to trial, each side will call witnesses and put on other evidence. After that, the arbitrator will issue a written decision and announce the winner.

The ruling of the arbitrator is final. Except in very limited circumstances, the decision of the arbitrator cannot be appealed.

To speak with one of our Attorneys about questions about your arbitration and mediation, call 601-202-1111 today.

Pepper & Odom Law Firm

571 Highway 51, Suite B. Ridgeland, MS 39157


Original content by: Attorney Craig Panter of Panter Law Firm