Mediation and arbitration

Mediation and arbitration are ways that people can settle their disputes out of court.  These alternative dispute resolution options provide confidentiality and can be faster and less expensive than going to court.  Mediators help parties try to come to an agreement.  Arbitrators have the power to make a binding decision. 


Mediation is a process for resolving disputes together. The people involved in a dispute meet and talk with the help of a mediator.  The mediator will help the people define their problem so they can try to resolve it.

The mediation takes place in a private, informal setting where the parties take part in the negotiation and design of a settlement. The mediator has no power to make decisions. The dispute is settled only if all of the parties agree to the settlement.

Mediation focuses on the interests and needs of the people involved rather than just what they say they want. Interests are the key to every dispute. A position is only what a person has concluded is the best way of meeting those interests.

Interests can be about many things, including money, control, the process or the way in which a dispute is resolved or even about needs relating to feelings or emotions about the issue.

By looking for these underlying interests, parties can create new options for settlement.


Arbitration is a way for people to finally resolve disputes quickly, fairly, confidentially, and out of court.  Parties agree to be bound by the decision of one or more independent and impartial arbitrators, usually chosen by the parties.  An arbitrator receives submissions from both sides, conducts a fair hearing according to the rules of law, and – unlike a mediator – can render an enforceable decision. 

B.C.’s new Arbitration Act modernizes the province’s domestic arbitration system and improves access to justice through out-of-court options.  A second statute, the International Commercial Arbitration Act, applies if one party is based in a jurisdiction outside Canada. 

Under the Arbitration Act, when parties cannot agree on an arbitrator the Vancouver International Arbitration Centre (VanIAC) is the designated appointing authority.  With strong provincial legislation and supportive courts, Vancouver is a favoured neutral location for international parties to hold arbitration hearings.