Court procedures are largely and as a whole, inflexible. Parties to arbitration, however, may determine the procedures of the arbitration by mutual consent.
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution very similar to trial proceedings. It is the private, adjudicative determination of a dispute, by an independent third party. An arbitration hearing may involve the use of an individual arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators and unlike mediation, is binding upon the parties.
Arbitrations are governed by the Arbitration Act 42 of 1965. Once the parties agree to have a dispute arbitrated, an arbitration agreement is signed which sets out the rules by which the arbitration will be governed.
An arbitration award is binding on the parties to the arbitration. An award may, however, also be made an order of court, in which case, the arbitration award will then be enforced in the usual manner that court judgements are enforced.
The aim of arbitration is to provide an alternative forum where the dispute may be adjudicated allowing the parties some control over who adjudicates the matter and the time periods in which the matter will be heard.
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