There are various forms of out-of-court dispute resolution or conflict management: arbitration, conciliation and mediation.

Arbitration often takes place in commercial disputes of international reach. Arbitration is conducted by one or more arbitrators. The parties to the arbitration elect the arbitrator(s) to decide the conflict. At the end of the procedure, the arbitrator will issue an arbitration award that may replace a court ruling. There are national or international institutions that lay down rules of procedure and the appointment of arbitrators, such as the German Institution of Arbitration in Cologne (DIS) or the International Chamber of Commerce based in Paris (ICC).

Above all, mediation differs from both methods in that the mediator makes no decisions or proposals for possible compromise. The solutions in mediation are based on the own proposals of the conflicting parties. An autonomous solution is therefore a special characteristic of mediation.