What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?

In mediation, the parties agree that a qualified neutral, usually a lawyer or someone with specific knowledge of the dispute, will meet with all parties and attempt to bring the parties to a settlement. The mediator has no power to force a decision on anyone, but may attempt to persuade the parties to compromise. In arbitration, either one, or sometimes a panel of three, qualified neutral arbitrators (usually lawyers or retired judges) hear both sides of the case in a format more like that of a trial. The arbitrators will hear from witnesses and review documents. The arbitrators then make a decision.