An arbitration hearing is an alternative and less formal process that aims to settle disputes between two individuals, conflicting groups and companies. The arbitrator is the person in authority that takes charge of this type of hearing. The parties involved normally choose this form of settlement as required by a contractual provision or on their own free will, meaning a voluntary decision.
During the hearing, the two parties present their cases in front of an arbitrator. The aim is to present evidence, plead cases and cross-examine the witnesses of the opposing sides. However in contracts containing an arbitration clause, those in dispute need to follow certain procedures of the conduct of a hearing. In the United States, for instance, commercial contracts contain a provision stating that disputes to be arbitrated should be done following the rules of the American Arbitration Association (AAA).
Compared to a court trial, an arbitration hearing is not very complicated. Some of its major differences are the absence of formal rules of evidence and the goal to settle the dispute in a simple, fast and easy manner as much as possible for the benefit of the parties involved. For this very reason, arbitrators discourage the use of dilatory tactics and motions which are common in civil court trials.
Usually, the arbitration hearing takes place only in a conference room with the arbitrator seated on one side of the table and the parties, their attorneys and witnesses on the other side. The arbitrator may also ask the witnesses certain questions to gain a better understanding of the case.