Arbitration is a voluntary process where the parties hire a neutral person to make a final and binding decision regarding specific issues in dispute. This can be a stand-alone process, or can be part of a Mediation/Arbitration process.
Arbitration can be useful when the parties have been unable to reach a resolution through mediation, negotiation, or collaborative law. Parties will often choose arbitration over a traditional court process where privacy, timeliness, and control over the process is important.
This is a more formal process than mediation. It is important that the parties to an arbitration receive legal advice prior to commencing an arbitration.
In Ontario, the arbitration process is governed by statute, the Arbitration Act, 1991.
The decision of the arbitrator is based on evidence and submissions by the parties. This may be done orally or in writing, or a combination of the two. Witnesses may be called, and a court reporter may attend.
The arbitrator must decide the issues in accordance with the law. The decision must be in writing, and is called an Award. In Ontario, the arbitrator’s Award is subject to appeal and judicial review. It may also be filed with the court for enforcement.