Many people are familiar with the terms mediation, arbitration, or litigation.  Unless you studied law, however, you might not know the difference between each and when they are used.  In this article, we will outline the difference between the three.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution.  The purpose of mediation is to bring two opposing parties to the table. In mediation, they discuss their issues in a non-confrontational manner.  During mediation, there is a third-party that serves as a mediator and facilitates the process.  The goal of mediation is to allow the disputing parties to come together to negotiate a fair and just settlement. Additionally, mediation helps both parties avoid the cost of litigation.


The following is just some of the benefits of mediation:

  • Costs. A successful mediation can help the parties avoid the cost of court and legal fees associated with litigation.
  • Time. Experts resolve mediation in a manner of hours or a few days. Opposed to litigation, which takes months or years to resolve.
  • Confidentiality. Since mediation is a private affair, the process allows the parties to keep their disputes confidential from the public whereas as a matter of public interest, litigation is open to the public.
  • Compliance. Successful mediation is a result of two parties working out their differences. As a result, they usually follow the solution since they both feel like they contributed.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution.  Arbitration is similar to a trial court in that two sides present a case to a panel of arbitrators known as the arbitral tribunal.  Although less formal than a trial court, arbitration rulings are binding on the parties and enforceable by the courts.


The following is just some of the benefits of arbitration:

  • Say on the Tribunal. In litigation, the legal system assigns a case judge to your dispute. In arbitration, the parties have a say as to who serves on the tribunal panel. This is preferred in disputes that require a high degree of expertise.
  • Speed. Since arbitration is less formal than courts, arbitration is usually a faster means to a resolution.
  • Confidentiality. Although arbitration rulings are binding on the parties and are enforced through the courts, the rulings are also confidential.
  • Language. In arbitration, the parties may choose to have the proceedings done in any language as opposed to litigation where the proceedings must be done in the official language of the country.

What is Litigation?

Litigation is a hearing that is done in a court of law in front of a judge and in some cases a jury panel.  Litigation is a costly process that may require the need to hire multiple attorneys.  Since litigation is handled in front of a judge, the process is formal and can take months or years for a complete resolution.


The following is just some of the benefits of litigation:

  • Public Record. Since trial courts serve a public interest, then cases litigated in a courtroom is public record and therefore holds the parties accountable.
  • Appeals. In litigation, the losing side usually has the opportunity to appeal the final judgment which is not usually available in arbitration.
  • Jury. Even though in litigation the parties are assigned a Judge to oversee the proceedings, they have a right to pick a jury of lay individuals to hear the case and render a verdict.
  • Enforcement. Since litigation is done in a court of law, any verdict is enforceable through the courts and making a higher likelihood for the winning party to be able to collect.

Contact Us

If you have a dispute with another person or entity and you are unsure about what your options are, contact us at Valrico Law Group to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys who will advise you on the best course of action specific to your case.