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Difference Between an Arbitrator and a Mediator

Arbitration and mediation are two alternative dispute resolution processes that can assist you in resolving severe problems outside of the regular court system. To begin, these approaches can help you overcome difficult conflicts.

A impartial third party, known as an arbitrator, performs a thorough examination of the evidence and arguments that are submitted by both parties during the arbitration process. This process is analogous to the case proceeding. After that, he or she finally settles on a choice.

The mediation process has evolved into a more casual approach in which a neutral third party, known as the mediator, assists both sides in reaching an agreement that is advantageous to both parties.

Please find below a concise summary of the significant distinctions that exist between the two groups.

Who is an Arbitrator?

When individuals find themselves in a situation where they are unable to resolve a disagreement or dispute on their own, they will bring in an arbitrator to make a decision. A neutral third party, often known as an arbiter, is a person or group that has the responsibility of resolving conflicts amongst parties involved without taking sides.

An arbitrator is a trained expert who acts as a judge and attentively listens to the arguments presented by both sides in order to arrive at a decision that is mutually acceptable to both parties. They encourage collaborative efforts in order to get a result that is beneficial to both parties involved.

Generally speaking, their decision is final.Arbitrators often provide assistance in legal cases, such as disagreements regarding real estate.

Who is a Mediator?

The role of a mediator is to act as an impartial facilitator during a dispute. Whenever there is a disagreement or conflict between two parties, a mediator is brought in to assist them in talking things out and coming up with a solution together. Mediators, in contrast to arbitrators, do not make decisions on behalf of the parties involved. Instead, the mediator acts as a facilitator to direct the discourse toward a conclusion that is acceptable to both parties.

Instead of imposing a solution on the parties involved, mediators work to facilitate the parties’ ability to find a settlement. These individuals are employed in a variety of contexts, ranging from arguments in the workplace to international negotiations to conflicts within the community and within families.

They provide an alternative that is peaceful and that both parties are either in agreement with or satisfied with.

Difference between an Arbitrator and a Mediator

Decision-Making Authority

An arbitrator acts as a judge and carefully listens to both parties’ arguments to make a mutually agreeable decision. The decision is final and cannot be challenged.

A mediator, on the other hand, has no decision-making power. Rather, their role is to facilitate communication and help concerned parties reach their own mutually agreeable solution. No outcome is imposed.

Nature of Involvement

An arbitrator may be a legal professional and plays a more active role in dispute resolution and decision-making.

A mediator, on the other hand, acts as a neutral facilitator who helps parties find their own resolution without imposing decisions. He guides the conversation and helps them understand each other’s perspectives.


Arbitration is a more formal process, comparable to a court case including rules of evidence and procedure, which is then followed by a final decision that is legally binding at the conclusion of the process.

A process that is less formal is that of mediation. Although the mediator does not impose a solution, they do lead the discourse in order to arrive at a conclusion that is acceptable to both parties. In order to arrive at a consensual agreement, it places an emphasis on open communication and collaboration between the parties involved.


An arbitrator’s decision is binding and final. The parties may not completely agree with it. This means they have less control over the outcome. The result is a win-lose scenario where one party wins and the other loses.

Mediators help both parties find a mutually- acceptable compromise. The result is a win-win for both parties. Everyone is happy and satisfied.

Arbitration vs. Mediation: Comparison Chart


Mediation is a voluntary process, meaning both parties must agree to participate and can leave at any time. In arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision is usually final and binding, meaning the parties cannot appeal. Whether arbitration or mediation is suitable for you depends on your specific circumstances. Additionally, the relationship between the two parties can also impact the outcome.


What is the main difference between an arbitrator and a mediator quizlet?

An arbitrator makes a decision that is binding and final, while a mediator facilitates communication to help both parties reach a voluntary agreement.

Is mediation required before arbitration?

There may be local laws and regulations that mandate mediation before certain types of disputes reach court or arbitration. This can apply to specific areas like family law, commercial contracts, or consumer disputes.

Do arbitrators have to be lawyers?

No, arbitrators do not necessarily have to be lawyers.

What is the difference between mediation, negotiation, and arbitration?

  • Mediation is a more informal process where a neutral third party, the mediator, helps both parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
  • Negotiation is a direct discussion between the disputing parties to reach a resolution.
  • Arbitration is more formal in nature, wherein an arbitrator makes a binding decision after considering evidence.

Which is better, mediation or arbitration?

It depends on the nature of the dispute. Mediation is usually faster and less expensive than arbitration. It’s a win-win for concerned parties.

Can a mediator be an arbitrator?

While it might be technically possible in some cases, the practice of switching roles can raise concerns about confidentiality and impartiality. In some cases, a mediator can act as an arbitrator, but with the consent of both parties. This is a process called med-arb, which is a hybrid dispute resolution alternative.

Do arbitrators cost money?

Yes, arbitrators usually charge fees for their services, typically more than what mediators charge.

Who can be an arbitrator in Canada?

There’s no official licensing required to become an arbitrator in Canada. However, expertise in the subject matter of the dispute will boost your credibility.

Can anyone act as an arbitrator?

Technically, anyone with the knowledge or expertise relevant to the dispute can be an arbitrator.

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References :


[1]d'Ambrumenil, Peter. Mediation & Arbitration for Lawyers. Routledge, 1997.

[2]McIlwrath, Michael, and John Savage. International Arbitration and Mediation: A Practical Guide. Kluwer Law International B.V., 2010.

[3]Pynchon, Victoria. Success as a Mediator For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

[4]“Mediation vs. Arbitration: What’s the Difference?” MetLife, 27 Feb. 2023, www.metlife.com/stories/legal/mediation-vs-arbitration/.

[5]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MADqmQpHlXw-wooden-blocks-with-word-mediator-and-conflict-settlement-of-disputes-conflict-resolution-and-mediation-third-party-intermediary-solution-problem-/

[6]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MADeq2DvT9Y-arbitration-agreement-and-gavel-on-a-desk-/

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