According to a Google search, mediation is intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it; arbitration. However, this simple definition often causes confusion. Mediation is NOT arbitration!
Arbitration is the private, judicial determination of a dispute, by an independent third party. Think of it as submitting your case, or arguing your case to an arbitrator rather than a judge.
While mediation and arbitration are both dispute resolution processes, they are very different in practice.
Mediation can be thought of as assisted negotiation. While the mediator helps the parties reach an agreement each is satisfied with, the mediator does not evaluate each sides view or determine who is right or wrong. A mediator does not determine the terms by which the parties will be held accountable.
Mediation is a voluntary process. Individuals can discontinue the mediation process at any time. Mediation is collaborative in that each party must work together for mediation to be successful and no one party has a better standing or case than the other party. The mediation process is confidential. The mediator is an impartial, neutral party assisting the parties in coming to a mutual agreement. While the mediator does not offer legal advise, parties can participate in mediation with the assistance of legal counsel or communicate with legal counsel before making a final decision on an agreement.