In recent years, as litigation has become more costly and time-consuming, more and more people and companies have turned to alternative means of resolving disputes. Although there are numerous types and variations of alternative resolution techniques, two predominate: arbitration and mediation.

Arbitration: in arbitration, the parties agree to present their claims before a neutral party, or a panel of neutrals, jointly selected to make a determination on the claims. Arbitration is like a typical trial in that the parties may examine witnesses and present evidence. However, the procedural rules are relaxed, and the atmosphere is less formal than a trial. The arbitrator’s decision is typically binding on the parties, but may be appealed in court under certain circumstances.

Mediation: mediation is an informal process in which the parties agree to allow a neutral third party to facilitate discussion between the parties. A mediator may simply help get the parties to common ground, or may actually be involved in crafting a resolution. The purpose of mediation is to reach an agreement suited to the needs of the parties. The agreement may or may not be binding on the parties, depending on terms agreed to by the parties.

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