Arbitration is an adjudication process and is very similar to a court process. The parties bring the issues to an impartial third-party arbitrator chosen by the parties and the arbitrator makes a decision that is binding upon the parties. A mediator does not have the authority to make the decision. If the parties cannot voluntarily agree then the mediation process breaks down, whereas the whole point of arbitration is that the parties have not been able to voluntarily agree and they need a third party to intervene.
At the end of the day, the arbitrator will prepare a written decision with reasons to substantiate his or her decision and then that decision will be binding upon the parties and enforceable by the Ontario Superior Court in the event of disagreement.
It is possible to complete the Arbitration process in the space of a few weeks whereas if you start a court process today here in Ottawa you might finish in two and a half years at the earliest.
Costs of arbitration vary significantly depending upon the resources that are utilized and the time that it takes. However, arbitration is infinitely cheaper than litigation. Even though you are not paying for the judge, a court process is so laborious, so time consuming, so laden with paper that there is no way that you can do a litigation process for the cost that you can an arbitration process, even though you are paying for the arbitrator.
Gerald Yemensky currently provides arbitration services at CCY Family Law.