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In an arbitration, the arbitrator looks into the legal rights and wrongs of a dispute and makes a decision. Once the arbitrator has arrived at a decision, it is binding on parties whether they agree with it or not. It is very much like the way a court case is decided by a judge, except that the process does not take place in a court room, and it is not open to the public. As in a court case, there is usually a winning and a losing party in an arbitration.

In a mediation, the mediator, essentially, helps parties to settle their disputes by a process of discussion and narrowing differences. The mediator helps the parties to arrive at an agreed solution. He does not decide the dispute. A successful mediation results in an agreement signed by the parties, whereas a contested arbitration results in a decision by the arbitrator himself without the agreement of the parties. In a mediation, there is no such thing as a winning or losing party, because there is no binding decision without both parties agreeing to one.

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre handles arbitration cases in Singapore. Mediation is managed by the Singapore Mediation Centre.
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