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An adjudicator considers information presented to him or her and renders a decision on the basis of that information. There are a number of different forms of adjudication, from a court of law where a judge sits on the bench to decide cases to an informal contest overseen by a panel of adjudicators who will judge at the end of the competition. The qualifications required for various types of adjudicators vary.
Judges, sometimes known as arbiters or adjudicators, need to have an extensive knowledge of the law. While on the bench, a judge hears cases, rules on motions, and performs other tasks related to coordinating a trial. The judge is required to hear cases fairly and to consider all of the material presented in a balanced way before reaching a decision. That decision must be rooted in the law and the judge should be able to provide evidence to prove it.
On a less formal level, people sometimes attempt to resolve disputes before going to court through a process known as adjudication. The construction industry is an example of an industry where people are encouraged to meet privately with an adjudicator to decide a matter before taking it to court. In this case, the person has some training paired with knowledge of the industry to help people work out an agreement in a dispute, acting much like a mediator.
In the insurance industry, an adjudicator is one of the people who reviews an application and decides whether or not to approve it. In this case, the adjudicator is experienced in the insurance field. The facts of the case are reviewed and compared to the policy to determine whether or not the situation is one that should be covered by the insurance policy. If it is not, the adjudicator denies the claim.
Competitions, especially in the arts, often involve a panel of adjudicators. These people usually have experience in the field and are regarded as authorities. This type of adjudicator watches contestants, takes notes about their performance, and rates them. The ratings of all the adjudicators are combined to determine who wins the competition. Adjudicators may also provide critique that is intended to help contestants improve in the future.
In order to adjudicate fairly in any kind of case, an adjudicator needs to be neutral. People with a conflict of interest are expected to dismiss themselves to avoid bias. It is also necessary to have experience and training in the area at hand, whether it's a beauty pageant or a corporate lawsuit.
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