Arbitration is a more formal method of settlement which includes a decision by an arbitrator. Arbitration takes the place of a trial before a judge or jury. If a person signs a contract containing a mandatory, binding arbitration agreement, they are essentially giving up the right to go to court to have their claim resolved. Because the arbitration is binding, grounds for appealing or setting aside the arbitration decision are very limited and may frequently not be available at all. They require parties to the contract to resolve disputes in binding arbitration, rather than in court before a judge and/or jury.
Negotiation allows parties to meet in order to settle a dispute and reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The main advantage of this form of dispute resolution is that it allows the parties themselves to control the process and solution through examination of facts, the exposure of both the common and opposing interests of the parties involved, and bargaining to resolve as many issues as possible.
Mediation provides parties in a dispute an opportunity to settle informally with the assistance of a trained third party. A mediator is not a judge and does not render a decision or impose a solution on any party; instead, the mediator helps those involved in the dispute by managing the mediation session, thus allowing them to resolve the dispute themselves. In court-referred mediation, parties may be ordered to attend a mediation session, any agreement is entirely voluntary. In the absence of agreement, the parties retain their right to take the dispute before a judge or jury.
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