Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution which occurs outside the courts. The process of arbitration may be quicker than for litigation, and can sometimes offer greater flexibility and lower costs for businesses. Hearings will normally last about half a day, although the arbitrator has the power to adjourn if necessary.
In this legal setting the dispute is referred to ‘arbitrators’ (or the ‘arbitral tribunal’), the third party who make a legally binding decision for both sides. Upon consideration of the evidence, the arbitrator makes a legally binding decision which can be enforced in the same manner as a civil court judgment.
It is the role of this impartial third party that is important in distinguishing arbitration from another similar legal process: mediation. In arbitration the third party is completely responsible for issuing a final resolution to the matter at hand, whereas during mediation, the mediator works with the third party to help them reach a decision amongst themselves.
In other words, a mediator has no power of judgement but facilitates communication between parties in order to resolve the dispute without legal involvement and amicably. Mediation is therefore particularly useful when two parties have a long-term relationship to maintain, as it is above all a method of conciliation, whereas arbitration does not necessarily concentrate on the preservation of inter-party relations.
Arbitration can be either voluntary or mandatory. However, even mandatory arbitration is voluntary to begin with as it can only come from a statute or from a contract that is voluntarily entered into, where the parties agree to hold all existing or future disputes to arbitration.
Teams of legal interpreters often specialize in particular fields – including shipping disputes and technical engineering – and are accustomed to interpreting in a vast range of legal settings including litigation, depositions, as well as arbitration.