Arbitration. Mediation. Settlement conference. The same thing? Different? And the answer is (and, attorneys, be quiet): YES!
With arbitration the parties pay the arbitrator—sometimes there are three—to decide the case, instead of letting the judge—paid with tax dollars—handle things. The decision may or may not be binding; in most instances involving non-binding arbitration, however, the appealing party may be subject to a sanction if the outcome in case #2 is not better by some amount than the arbitrator’s decision. (Some Arizona courts use this system to deal with smaller cases.)
Arbitration clauses show up often in boilerplate consumer contracts. The U.S. Supreme Court loves arbitration, even though—or maybe because—the process costs lots of money and deals poorly with