Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators facilitate negotiation and dialogue between disputing parties to help resolve conflicts outside of the court system.
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators typically do the following:
- Facilitate communication between disputants to guide parties toward mutual agreement
- Clarify issues, concerns, needs, and interests of all parties involved
- Conduct initial meetings with disputants to outline the arbitration process
- Settle procedural matters such as fees, or determine details such as witness numbers and time requirements
- Set up appointments for parties to meet for mediation or arbitration
- Interview claimants, agents, or witnesses to obtain information about disputed issues
- Prepare settlement agreements for disputants to sign
- Apply relevant laws, regulations, policies, or precedents to reach conclusions
- Evaluate information from documents such as claim applications, birth or death certificates, and physician or employer records
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators help opposing parties settle disputes outside of court. They hold private, confidential hearings, which are less formal than a court trial.
Arbitrators are usually attorneys, business professionals, or retired judges with expertise in a particular field. As impartial third parties, they hear and decide disputes between opposing parties. Arbitrators may work alone or in a panel with other arbitrators. In some cases, arbitrators may decide procedural issues, such as what evidence may be submitted and when hearings will be held.
Arbitration may be required by law for some claims and disputes. When it is not required, the parties in dispute sometimes voluntarily agree to arbitration rather than proceed with litigation or a trial. In some cases, parties may appeal the arbitrator’s decision.
Mediators are neutral parties who help people resolve their disputes. However, unlike arbitrators, they do not render binding decisions. Rather, mediators help facilitate discussion and guide the parties toward a mutually acceptable agreement. If the opposing sides cannot reach a settlement with the mediator’s help, they are free to pursue other options.
Conciliators are similar to mediators. Although their role is to help guide opposing sides to a settlement, they typically meet with the parties separately. The opposing sides must decide in advance if they will be bound by the conciliator’s recommendations.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor: www.bls.gov