Arbitration differs from mediation in where the decision rests solely with the arbitrator or arbitrators. Sometimes more than one arbitrator is involved.

Unlike a mediation, a hearing takes place where the arbitrator(s) hears the parties’ argument.

Depending on what evidence, if any, and what is stated in the hearing, the arbitrator(s) make a final decision resolving the conflict. This is what is called an arbitration award.

What is used in the hearing, including the rules of law that the hearing will follow, is mutually agreed to by the parties involved. That is the rules of law must be in conformity with the laws of the State, if any are used.

The common thread in both mediation and arbitration is that the parties agree to abide by the determination of the award in arbitration or the agreed upon settlement agreement in mediation.


In mediation, the “Settlement Agreement” is a binding contract between the parties and either can seek remedies if the agreement is breached. In the case of a dispute that is in litigation, a settlement determination is sent to the court whether the mediation resulted in a settlement or not.

In arbitration, the arbitration award ends the conflict completely. If a dispute is in litigation, it is up to the parties to submit it to the court. It is in very rare occasions that the court will overturn an arbitration award.