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Arbitration vs. Adjudication: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 29, 2023
Arbitration is a private dispute resolution process with an arbitrator's decision, while adjudication involves a legal process leading to a judge's decision.

Key Differences

Arbitration involves disputing parties choosing an arbitrator to resolve their conflict outside the court system. Adjudication, conversely, is a formal legal process where a judge or tribunal makes a binding decision.
The arbitration process is typically less formal and can be quicker than adjudication. While, in adjudication, the process follows legal procedures and may take more time due to court schedules and formalities.
Decisions in arbitration are usually final and have limited grounds for appeal. Adjudication decisions, however, can often be appealed to a higher court for review.
Arbitration allows parties to select an expert in the relevant field as their arbitrator. On the other hand, adjudication is conducted by legally appointed judges who may not have specific expertise in the disputed subject matter.
Arbitration proceedings are confidential, with details typically not disclosed publicly. Adjudication, in most cases, results in public records and judgments.

Comparison Chart


Private dispute resolution
Formal legal process

Decision Maker

Chosen arbitrator
Judge or legal tribunal


Less formal, flexible
Formal legal procedures


Limited appeal options
Decisions can be appealed


Usually confidential
Public record and judgment

Arbitration and Adjudication Definitions


Arbitration involves a neutral third party making a binding decision.
Arbitration resolved the employment dispute swiftly and confidentially.


Adjudication follows formal legal procedures and court rules.
Through adjudication, both parties presented their case following legal protocols.


A less formal alternative to litigation for resolving disputes.
They chose arbitration for its cost-effectiveness and speed.


A legal process where a judge or tribunal decides a dispute.
The contract breach was taken to adjudication for a formal legal decision.


Arbitration decisions are generally final and enforceable.
The arbitration ruling on the financial dispute was accepted without appeal.


It involves a legally appointed judge making a binding judgment.
The judge’s ruling in the adjudication was based on legal precedents.


A private process where an arbitrator resolves disputes outside of court.
The contract dispute was settled through arbitration to avoid a lengthy trial.


Decisions in adjudication can typically be appealed.
The adjudication outcome was appealed to a higher court.


Parties in arbitration can agree on their arbitrator's qualifications.
In their arbitration, an expert in commercial law was chosen as the arbitrator.


Adjudication results are public records, offering transparency.
The adjudication judgment was published as a matter of public record.


The process by which the parties to a dispute submit their differences to the judgment of an impartial person or group appointed by mutual consent or statutory provision.


To make a decision (in a legal case or proceeding), as where a judge or arbitrator rules on some disputed issue or claim between the parties.


The act or process of arbitrating.


To study and settle (a dispute or conflict)
The principal adjudicated the students' quarrel.


A process through which two or more parties use an arbitrator or arbiter in order to resolve a dispute.


To act as a judge of (a contest or an aspect of a contest).


In general, a form of justice where both parties designate a person whose ruling they will accept formally. More specifically in Market Anarchist (market anarchy) theory, arbitration designates the process by which two agencies pre-negotiate a set of common rules in anticipation of cases where a customer from each agency is involved in a dispute.


The hearing and determination of a cause between parties in controversy, by a person or persons chosen by the parties.


(law) the hearing and determination of a dispute by an impartial referee agreed to by both parties (often used to settle disputes between labor and management)


The act of deciding as an arbiter; giving authoritative judgment;
They submitted their disagreement to arbitration


What is arbitration?

A private process for resolving disputes with an arbitrator's decision.

Can arbitration be less expensive than adjudication?

Often, due to its less formal nature and quicker resolution.

How is arbitration different from court trials?

It's less formal, often faster, and the proceedings are confidential.

What is adjudication?

A formal legal process where a judge or tribunal decides a dispute.

Are adjudication processes public?

Yes, they are part of the public legal system and records.

Is confidentiality maintained in arbitration?

Yes, arbitration proceedings and decisions are usually confidential.

Is expertise a factor in choosing arbitration?

Yes, parties often prefer arbitrators with specific expertise.

Can adjudication decisions be appealed?

Yes, they can typically be appealed to a higher court.

Is arbitration binding?

Yes, arbitration decisions are generally binding and enforceable.

Who can be an arbitrator?

An expert in the relevant field chosen by the disputing parties.

Can arbitration be used for any legal dispute?

Not all disputes are suitable for arbitration, like certain criminal cases.

What kind of transparency is offered in adjudication?

Its decisions and processes are public, providing legal transparency.

Who decides cases in adjudication?

A legally appointed judge or legal tribunal.

What types of disputes are suitable for arbitration?

Commercial, employment, and some types of family disputes.

How long does arbitration take compared to adjudication?

Arbitration is often quicker than the formal adjudication process.

Does adjudication offer a more formal resolution process?

Yes, it follows formal legal procedures and court rules.

Are adjudication judgments based on legal precedents?

Yes, they are based on legal standards and precedents.

Can arbitration decisions be enforced legally?

Yes, they are legally enforceable like court judgments.

Can anyone opt for adjudication?

It's typically used for legal disputes requiring formal resolution.

What happens if a party disagrees with an arbitration decision?

Options to appeal are limited compared to adjudication.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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