An alternative to trial where the decision maker is an individual or panel which makes a decision based on the evidence and testimony presented.  The rules of evidence apply as they would in a courtroom except that more evidence can be presented in writing without a live witness to testify about it.  The arbitration hearing is conducted in a formal setting with both parties in the same room presenting evidence and argument (compare to mediation). This type of proceeding may be required by contract or agreed to voluntarily by the parties to the lawsuit.  See also Mandatory Arbitration.