Real estate transactions are a common facet of life in Calgary, Alberta. However, despite the best intentions and the most detailed contracts, disputes can still arise. These disagreements may relate to anything from contract terms to property lines, issues with the home or property disclosed after purchase, or problems between landlords and tenants. When such disputes arise, the parties involved have several options for resolution. This article will explore three of these options: mediation, arbitration, and litigation.

Mediation: A Collaborative Approach

Mediation is often the first step in attempting to resolve a real estate dispute. It is a less formal process that emphasizes collaboration and mutual agreement. In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator facilitates a discussion between the disputing parties to find a mutually satisfactory resolution.

The mediator does not make a decision or issue a judgment. Instead, they guide the conversation, encouraging open communication and helping the parties find common ground. Mediation can be a cost-effective and efficient way to resolve disputes, often leading to quicker resolutions than more formal processes.

However, mediation relies on both parties being willing to negotiate and compromise. It may not be the best option if one party is unwilling to cooperate or if the dispute involves complex legal issues that require expert judgment.

Arbitration: A Binding Decision

If mediation fails or is not appropriate given the nature of the dispute, arbitration may be the next step. Like mediation, arbitration involves a neutral third party. However, in this case, the arbitrator listens to both sides, reviews the evidence, and then makes a decision. In binding arbitration, this decision is final and enforceable by law.

Arbitration can be quicker and less expensive than going to court. It also allows for more privacy, as arbitration hearings are not a matter of public record. However, arbitration does not offer the same level of procedural protections as a court trial, and the opportunities for appeal are limited.

Litigation: Taking the Matter to Court

If the parties cannot resolve their dispute through mediation or arbitration, or if the nature of the dispute demands a court’s attention, the final option is litigation. This process involves taking the matter to court, where a judge (or occasionally a jury) will hear the case and issue a binding decision.

Litigation is the most formal method of dispute resolution and offers the most protections in terms of procedure and the right to appeal. However, it is also typically the most time-consuming and costly option. Furthermore, the process is public, which means that the details of the dispute and the resulting judgment are a matter of public record.

Choosing the Right Method

Determining the best method for resolving a real estate dispute in Calgary depends on the nature of the dispute, the relationship between the parties, and the potential cost in time and money of each process.

For disputes that arise from a misunderstanding or communication breakdown, mediation may be the best approach. It allows the parties to clarify their positions and potentially reach a mutually beneficial solution.

For more complex disputes or those that involve a significant amount of money, arbitration or litigation may be more appropriate. Arbitration offers a balance between formality and efficiency, while litigation provides the most procedural protections.

Regardless of the method chosen, it’s crucial to have expert legal representation. A lawyer with experience in real estate law can provide advice on the best approach for a given dispute, represent their client’s interests during the process, and ensure that all legal requirements are met.


Real estate disputes in Calgary, Alberta can be stressful and time-consuming, but they don’t have to result in a drawn-out court battle. Mediation, arbitration, and litigation all offer viable paths to resolution, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. By understanding these options and seeking expert legal advice, parties can navigate their disputes more effectively and reach a satisfactory resolution. Whether through collaboration, a binding decision by an arbitrator, or a court judgment, there are several ways to resolve real estate disagreements in Calgary.