A person whose role it is to settle a dispute through the authority of their impartial opinion.
When you undergo an act of arbitration, you will need an arbiter. Arbitration is when two or more parties wish to settle a dispute through an individual's decisive and unbiased opinion. We refer to this impartial individual as an arbiter. Therefore, an arbiter will listen to the arguments of all parties involved before they reach a conclusion, much like a judge.
You can choose an arbiter in one of several ways. One way is that each opposing party agrees on a single arbiter. Another involves one arbiter nominated by either side. These two nominated arbiters select a third arbiter. Alternatively, the opposing parties may also opt to appoint an institution to select the arbiters on their behalf. Once the hearing has started, contrary to a mediation, neither disputing party may unilaterally withdraw before the arbiters reach a decision.
Real World Example of an Arbiter
Businesses can use arbiters to settle disputes involving an employee's pay. High-profile examples of this are common in professional sports between a team's general manager and their players. Although most arbitrations are kept private should the opposing parties agree on it, this is not the case in many professional sporting leagues. Therefore, the public is usually privy to salary negotiations.
January 15, 2021, was marked the final day the Major League Baseball teams had to finalize their salaries going into the year's season. However, for the Washington Nationals, the team had less than two days to negotiate what they hoped to be long-term contracts with two of their most valuable players. If the team could not agree to a deal with these players by the deadline, they would have to bring in an arbiter and undergo arbitration until both parties signed a contract.
In professional sports, arbitration hearings are publicized and are not a situation, as the Washington Post illustrates, a player wants to find themselves in. "Imagine waiting for a neutral arbiter to pick between the two amounts — nothing in between — and making a public decision so everyone, including your teammates, can see the goodwill fraying." Indeed, whereas a judge would keep this process private, an arbiter can circumvent a traditionally lengthy court process and settle the dispute before the baseball season begins.
Arbiter vs. Judge
Unlike a judge, an arbiter does not settle disputes in a court of law but, rather, outside of it—though their final decision is usually as binding as a judge's. A court will uphold the "ruling." Another significant distinction between a judge and an arbiter is that an arbiter's expertise is considerably more specific. As such, people commonly seek out arbiters to settle disputes which pertain to their field of expertise. An arbiter's services also allow the disputing parties to avoid a costly and time-consuming court process. Sometimes you'll need more than one arbiter to reach a conclusion. In such cases, there must be an odd number of arbiters to avoid a split decision.