What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution that may allow individuals to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation. In Michigan, arbitration follows the guidelines set forth in the federal Uniform Arbitration Act.

Review the process of arbitration and explore the possible uses of this ADR method.


If both parties agree to do so, they can use arbitration to attempt to resolve any type of civil dispute. One party can request arbitration but the other retains his or her right to go to court.

Sometimes, legal contracts require the use of arbitration to resolve disputes. In cases involving breach of contract, the parties should carefully review the contract to see whether they must attend arbitration.


While the exact arbitration may vary depending on the circumstances of the case, the process generally follows these steps:

  • One party requests arbitration for a dispute.
  • The other party has a set amount of time to either agree to arbitration or pursue litigation.
  • When he or she agrees, they select neutral arbitrators and set an arbitration date.
  • Both parties have a chance to present their cases before the arbitrator or arbitration panel.
  • The arbitrators have a set amount of type to provide the parties with a decision.
  • If either party does not accept the arbitration decision, he or she can still file a lawsuit.

If a contract requires arbitration, it will also spell out the required process.

Individuals most commonly use arbitration to resolve family law matters such as divorce, employment matters such as wrongful termination, and business and consumer issues such as breach of contract.