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Process of resolving a dispute or a grievance outside a court system by presenting it for decision to an impartial third party. Both sides in the dispute usually must agree in advance to the choice of arbitrator and certify that they will abide by the arbitrator's decision. In medieval Europe arbitration was used to settle disputes between merchants; it is now commonly used in commercial, labour-management, and international disputes. The procedures differ from those used in the courts, especially regarding burden of proof and presentation of evidence. Arbitration avoids costly litigation and offers a relatively speedy resolution as well as privacy for the disputants. The main disadvantage is that setting guidelines is difficult; therefore the outcome is often less predictable than a court decision. See alsomediation.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on arbitration, visit Britannica.com.