Going to court to settle a divorce or a business dispute can take years and thousands of dollars. Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators offer an alternative approach. They are trained to help resolve disagreements, improve communication and strengthen relationships…through procedures that are far less formal than a court trial.
With arbitration, each side must first agree to be bound by the decision reached by the arbitrator. In some case, there may be more than one arbitrator. Just like in court, each party gets to tell their side of the story. This may involve calling in witnesses and presenting evidence.
The Arbitrator listens, takes notes and asks questions. When both sides have presented their case, it’s up to the arbitrator to decide what would be the fairest resolution to the conflict. The arbitrator’s ruling is usually final.
With mediation and conciliation, the idea is to try to get the conflicting sides to solve their problems through the help of a third party. Mediators and Conciliators encourage both sides to discuss the issues and try to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement. Most discussions with Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators are kept confidential.
Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators may be lawyers, but they don’t have to be. Some have studied conflict management and dispute resolution in college or graduate school. Some are business people with experience in the matter being disputed. Some have been trained by mediation centers or training institutes.
But all arbitrators and mediators must be impartial – with no personal stake in the outcome. Since they’re often dealing with tense situations, they need to have even tempers, patience and good negotiating skills.
If they do their job well, they can help people resolve their differences without the expense and distress of a battle in court.