The Difference Between Arbitration & Litigation

Litigation is an ancient process that involves dealing with problems in court, with a judge or jury. Arbitration involves two parties in a dispute who agree to work with an uninterested third party, in an attempt to resolve the dispute. In arbitration, there may be one or more arbitrators who hear both sides of the problem and who make a decision.

Below are a few differences between the two processes:


The arbitration case is private and informal. Meanwhile, litigation is a formal process and is conducted in a public courtroom.

Time Frame of the Case

Arbitration cases are relatively faster in comparison to litigation cases. Once an arbitrator is selected, the case can be heard immediately. In a civil litigation case, on the other hand, a case must wait until the court has time to hear it. This process can go on for years before it’s completely resolved.

Cost of the Case

The cost of the arbitration case is limited to the fee of the arbitrator, dependant on the expertise of the arbitrator, on the size of the claim, the expenses, and the attorney fees.

The cost of a litigation process includes attorney fees and court costs, which can be extremely costly.

Selection of Arbitrator or Judge

The parties in the arbitration process decide jointly on the arbitrator. In a litigation case, the judge is appointed and the parties have no say in the selection. The parties may however, have some say in whether a case is heard by a jury or a judge.

The Role of Attorneys

Attorneys are allowed to represent the parties in an arbitration, but their role is extremely limited. In civil litigation cases, attorneys spend a lot of time making motions, gathering evidence, and presenting their cases. Law firms like Brian Blignaut Attorneys offer representation for commercial litigation cases.

Evidence Content Allowed

The arbitration process allows very limited evidence and the arbitrator controls the type of evidence allowed in the court case. Litigation cases on the other hand, require full disclosure of evidence to both parties. The rules of evidence do not apply in arbitration, there are no interrogatories, no subpoenas, and no discovery processes in these kind of cases.

Availability of Appeal

In a binding arbitration case, the parties rarely have an appeal option. If appeal has been included in an arbitration clause, then parties have the option. Some arbitration decisions may be reviewed by a judge and may be removed if you can prove that the arbitrator was biased in his decision.

Contact Brian Blignaut Attorneys for more information on commercial litigation.

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