The terms arbitration and litigation may seem synonymous to many because they all involve finding conclusive a resolution to a dispute between two parties. This is, however, not the case as illustrated in the text that follows.
Arbitration proceedings take place at a private venue, which is usually the arbitrator’s office. On the other hand, litigation takes place in an open courtroom, that is-in front of a judge or jury. Litigation does not exclusively connote lawsuit, but a host of processes that take place prior, during and after a suit is filed. This means that public exposure of a matter is common in litigation because of courtroom its setting.
One of the most notable differences between the two processes of seeking redress is that litigation is lengthy due to the numerous adjournments, recesses and appeals that are common in court cases. This is in contrast to the alternative, where the selection of an arbitrator sets things in motion, fast. While a court case may take months or years for a conclusion to be reached by a judge or jury, the decision of an arbitrator can be handed down in less than a month (depending on the circumstances of each case).
Selection of decision makers
It is common knowledge that you cannot select the judge who will oversee a court case. You can, however, select members of a jury, and, in some instances, decide if your case is to be handled by a judge or jury. When it comes to arbitration, parties have to be unanimous on whom the final decision maker in their dispute will be.
Types of disputes handled
Criminal charges cannot be handled through arbitration, but through a court process. Civil disputes can, however, be resolved through any of the two methods.
Expert legal help
The presence of lawyers in both conflict resolution mechanisms is common, but their roles are limited in case of arbitration. Arbitration basically involves arguments between the primary parties to a dispute. Attorneys have fundamental roles in litigation because they carry out nearly all the tasks needed to get the case in motion-filing suits, investigations, depositions, cross examinations and arguing on behalf of clients.
Decisions made by arbitrators are usually final-meaning that neither party can appeal. It is, however, possible to proceed to court if you feel like an arbitrator was biased in his or her decision. On the other hand, you can appeal the decision of a lower court if you are not satisfied by a decision reached by a judge or jury.
Court proceedings are rather costly because you need to hire investigators and lawyers in order to succeed in a case. You also need to pay court costs if your case ends up in front of a judge or jury. Arbitration proceedings usually involve hiring an arbitrator (both parties share this cost) and lawyers (optional).
Admission of evidence
Due to the fact that arbitration decisions do not entirely rely on the law, there are limitations to the evidence you can introduce. Litigation, on the other hand, is critically dependent on evidence since rules of evidence are used predominantly in all proceedings.