Adjudication is where a neutral person, usually empowered by an agency to make binding decisions, is given the tasks of examining facts and rendering a decision or judgment. It can refer to the casual type of judging that occurs at music or sports competitions, where the judges adjudicate and award points, scores or certificates accordingly. More often in the business world, it refers to a person qualified as a judge, examining the facts and helping to resolve a dispute between two parties.
In recent times, you may have noticed that some doctors now require patients to agree to adjudication if they have a dispute with the doctor over medical care. This means that if a patient wants to sue a doctor for malpractice, he or she does so with a judge evaluating the complaint and rendering a decision. Adjudication is binding in most cases and does not include having a jury render a decision in a civil trial. Instead, a judge makes a decision regarding the case after being presented with evidence. It is thought less expensive to use adjudication, and is generally more expedient.
A judge instead of a jury may also settle other types of disputes between parties. These include disputes between corporations, between an individual and a corporation, or between a person and a government agency. When both parties want quick resolution to an issue, adjudication often allows for this. This does not mean a person will always be satisfied with judgment results, and in fact, many prefer a jury trial, as juries may be more sympathetic, especially to personal injury claims. But jury trials are much more expensive and take much longer to accomplish when there is a lot of evidence to present.
Sometimes certain types of rank or clearance, as in national security clearance must be judged before it is granted. When evidence is gathered on the person requesting security clearance, usually for a job or to obtain a job, an impartial person makes the decision on whether or not clearance can or should be granted. This is also called adjudication, and works essentially in the same manner as it would in a court trial. The adjudicator examines all the pertinent information and is empowered to make a binding judgment regarding the applicant’s ability to get security clearance. In some countries, the granting of building permits or business licenses may also be subject to adjudication.
Adjudicators in the legal sense are not mediators; though they may help two parties come to terms or agree on settlement terms. In most cases, a mediator can help the parties compromise, but they can’t force the parties to do so. Legal adjudication is, on the other hand binding. What is decided is legal and enforceable, though under certain circumstances such decisions may be appealed.