What Is the Difference Between an Arbitrator and a Mediator?

Not every serious dispute has to be settled in court. There are alternative channels that can be used, which typically cost less money and follows a quicker process. Of course, these channels aren’t perfect, and sometimes it might just be better to go to court. But it’s recommended to consider arbitration or mediation before presenting your case in front of a judge. But what is the difference between an arbitrator and a mediator?

The best way to answer this question is to look at both options and their respective methods of reaching a final decision. So, if you’ve been wondering what they are about and which one you should be trying first, here is a quick breakdown.

An Arbitrator

Arbitrators are typically called in when the two parties are aggressive towards each other, but they don’t want to spend all that money on going to court. In other words, both parties feel the same about presenting evidence and giving testimony, but at a much cheaper price.

Thus, the arbitrator will approach the matter like a judge would in a more casual setting. There is no jury that needs to be swayed, but you still have to convince the arbitrator.

As expected, the arbitrator shouldn’t have any connections with the parties involved, and he or she has to be completely neutral. Seeing as the judgment from the arbitrator is final and both parties have to comply, whether they agree or not, it is vital to have an unbiased and experienced arbitrator.

This is also the type of situation where lawyers are used, given how the proceedings unfold. Unless you are apt with delivering evidence and up to date with the law, you want to have a lawyer on your side.

A Mediator

Mediation is very different from arbitration and much more casual. Unlike the job of an arbitrator, a mediator merely helps the two parties reach an agreement. A good example where mediation is used is when family members are fighting over an estate, or a couple is separating, and they have minor disagreements.

The parties involved with the dispute might still be aggressive towards each other, but not to the point where they feel “fighting” is necessary. Instead, they get a third party to help them establish a dialogue. Plus, the mediator is able to provide an objective perspective the disputing parties are probably blind to.

This also means that a mediator doesn’t give a final judgment on what should happen. They only give their opinion and guidance towards a mutual agreement. The disputing parties are not forced to adhere to the mediator’s opinion, and when they don’t it usually goes to the next step, which is arbitration.

Which One Is the Best?

Naturally, mediating through a problem without unnecessary confrontation is always the best option. But situations don’t always allow mediation to be possible. And when this happens, arbitration becomes the logical next step if money and time are going to be saved.