Mediation is first and foremost a non-binding, voluntary procedure. Mediation is a process in which the parties to a dispute can meet with a facilitator--a Mediator--someone specifically trained to help the parties consider alternative ways of resolving the dispute. The Mediator will make suggestions but has no authority to impose a settlement on the parties. In other words, the Mediator does not decide the case but facilitates a mutually acceptable resolution arrived at by the parties.

This means that, even though the parties have agreed to submit a dispute to mediation, and they sit with the Mediator for an hour or three or a day or more, they are not obliged to continue with the mediation process and can quit at any time after the first meeting. In this way, the parties remain always in control of the situation.

If it works, it has the distinct advantage of being faster, less expensive and better that anything else. If the parties are unable to agree upon a settlement, then they can proceed to arbitration or to court.


Arbitration is a binding procedure in which the parties to a dispute agree in advance on the selection of an Arbitrator (or panel of three Arbitrators) who will hear and decide the case. It is, in effect, an informal non-jury trial in which the parties may, or may not, choose to be represented by counsel. They get to present their evidence and argue their positions but without having to deal with all of the rules of procedure, evidence and other formalities generally applicable to court proceedings. It should be faster and less expensive than litigation but the Arbitrator's decision is not only binding--it is final. There is, except in very limited circumstances, no right to appeal.

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