Litigation vs Arbitration: Key Differences, Process, and Cost

Litigation vs Arbitration

In most cases, business, consumer and employment dealings go smoothly but sometimes it can result in conflicts which may need some professional help in resolving.

Whether you are a homeowner seeking a result for shoddy workmanship or a huge corporation protecting its reputation, disagreements can happen.

As experts in law here in Cardiff, Wales, we are often asked about whether litigation or arbitration will bring the best outcome.

In our helpful article, our specialists in legal affairs will outline your options, so you are better armed to make a decision.

Litigation is a way of resolving disputes via the court process. It can be lengthy, publicly recorded, and can be appealed. Arbitration is a less formal method, costs can vary, can be shorter depending on circumstances, has no appeal process and may result in a fairer decision.

Although many of us are familiar with the idea of courts resolving disagreements, arbitration can be an alternative.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a way of reaching an agreement without the more formal process of a judge or a trial.

An arbitrator is generally a specialist in the area surrounding the dispute and will attempt to resolve the problem using evidence provided by both parties.

During this process, documents are provided and oral statements of those involved in the argument.

The arbitrator will take account of both sides of a battle and will then issue the resolution.

Sometimes witnesses are called to help reach the final decision and give oral rather than written evidence.

For those in Cardiff and the UK, arbitration can sometimes be an excellent way of avoiding ongoing and expensive legal costs.

To help you decide between litigation vs arbitration, seek help from the best legal professionals who will be able to advise you on any potential costs.

Here are a few benefits of choosing arbitration vs litigation:

  • Litigation in general takes longer to resolve than arbitration
  • Arbitration results in an outcome, whereas litigation has an appeal process which means the result could be beneficial
  • Generally, arbitrators are specifically trained in the subject of the disagreement

What is the main difference between arbitration and litigation

Litigation is a well-known legal process that involves the resolution of a disagreement between different parties through a court with a judge or jury.

The main difference between litigation and arbitration is that arbitration settles disagreements without a trial process.

In its simplest form, arbitration involves two opposing parties who agree to work with a neutral third who will attempt to come to a fair agreement.

“The main difference between litigation and arbitration is that arbitration settles disagreements without a trial process.”

Here’s some further information on the advantages and disadvantages of litigation.

Is arbitration more formal than litigation?

The litigation process is a formal one where the result of the dispute is decided by a judge and sometimes a jury.

Arbitration is generally a more informal process where documents and information are exchanged in a less formal setting than in a court.

However, they may still question witnesses and get written statements before the hearing, although generally less than involved in a court process.

Although arbitration is more informal than litigation, it is a more formal type of Alternative Dispute Resolution, often abbreviated as ADR.

It has a tribunal process and is a more official process than either mediation or conciliation. 

Is arbitration less expensive than litigation?

Although arbitration is generally considered a cheaper alternative to the court process, this isn’t always the case.

In some cases, arbitration costs can skyrocket and some consumers and those seeking employment grievances are forced to abandon the process.

However, in general, litigation is widely understood as the more expensive solution to disagreements. This can be due to pre-trial and appeal processes.

As a general guide, arbitrator fees can range between £100 and £200 per person, per hour.

This will depend on experience and the location where they practice.

In general, court fees do not include legal representation. Find out more about court fees here.

How long does arbitration take?

The time an arbitration resolution takes is due to some main factors of the process.

  • The type of arbitrator
  • How many parties involved
  • Whether specific arbitration rules are followed
  • Where it will take place

These criteria can have a profound effect on the time that disagreements take to resolve using the arbitration process.

Typically litigation can often be a long drawn-out process. This is due to several factors including a backlog in the court system since the pandemic, formal rules and regulations and the entire formal court procedures.

If you are deciding between litigation vs arbitration, it’s recommended to seek advice from legal experts who will discover more about your specific situation and advise accordingly.

Litigation vs arbitration – Public and private

For businesses, you can also check on the Commercial Litigation Process. But here we’ll convey more about the private and public requirements of both litigation and arbitration.


Litigation being more formal is also a case for public record. This is due to specific rules and regulations which govern how the process must take place.

Once a claim has been filed, it will be entered on a publicly accessible register and will include the following:

  • Date of claim issue
  • Name of all parties to the claim
  • The case number

“Once a claim has been filed, it will be entered on a publicly accessible register”


Arbitrator processes have historically been long recognised as confidential in English law.

In most cases, the parties involved in the disagreement along with the tribunal are bound by an ‘implied duty’ to maintain confidentiality.

This relates also to all documentation produced and the outcome.

“Arbitrator processes have historically been long recognised as confidential in English law.”

Litigation vs arbitration – Which is fairer?

Fairness can be obtained in both ways of resolving disputes.

However, in arbitration, both parties initially agree with the process which will result in a fair outcome. But in a legal battle, neither party has any kind of control over who the judge or jury will be.

In arbitration, those who are disagreeing can choose a third party who is specialised in their particular area of dispute.

For this reason, they will have much experience dealing with problems within a certain area so it could be that a fairer decision might be reached.

“Fairness can be obtained by both ways of resolving disputes.”

Can you appeal arbitration?

When it comes to arbitration vs litigation in the appeals area, litigation is the clear winner.

With arbitration the decision is final and there is no kind of formal appeals process if you feel an unfair, or biased decision has been made.

Litigation on the other hand has a formal appeal process locked in. In a civil trial, either of the parties to the disagreement can register an appeal.

Both ways can have benefits. In arbitration the decision is final, meaning no further processes and both parties can move on.

In litigation, an appeals process can draw the situation out which can cause further unwanted stress.

“When it comes to arbitration vs litigation in the appeals area, litigation is the clear winner.”

And finally…

If you are in the process of either a consumer, employment or business disagreement, you may be considering the benefits of litigation vs arbitration.

With a client list including individuals, families, U.K.-wide multi-nationals, financial institutions and TV personalities we can offer a wide range of legal services.

With a reputation for first-class service, commitment and attention we can help you navigate court or arbitration processes.

Get in touch today, to speak with our experienced and helpful team.


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