Mediation vs. Arbitration – What’s the Difference?

mediation | perry, bundy law“In most lawsuits in North Carolina the parties, and most often their attorneys, will be required to participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The most common ADR procedure is mediation, but the parties can choose arbitration. What is the difference between the two and how does it affect you?

Mediation is a process where the parties determine the outcome with the assistance of a neutral third party, the mediator. Self-determination is the cornerstone of this process. The mediator does not and cannot make decisions for the parties. Typically, the mediator will have a joint session with all parties present to go over the rules and determine the issues. The parties then will go to separate rooms and the mediator goes between the two rooms to discuss with both sides. The mediator discusses with both parties the issues and possible resolutions in order to form an agreement between the two parties. If an agreement is reached, it is typically reduced to writing and signed by all parties. This agreement will typically require further documents to be filed with the court to close the case out. If no agreement is reached, court is the next step.

Attorney | Perry, Bundy, Plyer attorneyArbitration is essentially a private trial. The parties, and most often their attorneys, present their case and evidence to a neutral third party, the arbitrator, who then makes a decision on the questions presented. The arbitrator decides the outcome of the case, not the parties. Typically, the rules of evidence are followed and the arbitrator issues a ruling within a relatively short period of time. The ruling by the arbitrator is then reduced to writing and thereafter must be confirmed by the court to close the matter out.

  • Both of these processes generally require the parties to pay for the neutral’s services. Both processes allow you to avoid court in a large part. Both processes are typically faster than going through the court system.”

– Richard G. Long, Jr.


Richard G. Long, Jr is a North Carolina Dispute Resolution Committee Certified Family Financial and Superior Court Mediator, as well as a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law. He has handled over fifteen years of Meditations and Arbitrations. Contact us today to see if we can help to resolve your problem as quickly as possible.