English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Two parties are trying to resolve some dispute that involves interest of both. Sometimes it's hard for them to reach an agreement on a fair basis. This is typically when another party who has no interest involved and no bias towards either party comes into play in order to settle the dispute between the two conflicting parties. The term "third party" seems being used quite often. I would also call it a "middle-standing" party or we could say this party is neutral.

These terms seem NOT formal enough to me though. I'd like to see if anybody can come up with a better one.

share|improve this question
up vote 9 down vote accepted

What about a disinterested party?

share|improve this answer
I can't think of a word better than this one if emphasis of the party's neutrality is what you're after. – Bjorn Nov 25 '11 at 9:33

Besides mediator, "One who negotiates between parties seeking mutual agreement", consider negotiator, moderator and arbitrator, "A person to whom the authority to settle or judge a dispute is delegated."

share|improve this answer

I think your proposed "neutral party" is accurate and appropriate. I don't think there should be any concern about it being informal. If Switzerland calls it "neutrality", it should be good enough for you.

share|improve this answer
@JasperLoy Don't forget their watches and banks. – Terry Li Nov 25 '11 at 3:19

A mediator helps resolve disputes between conflicting parties.

share|improve this answer

All those suggestions are valid and good but those would not be third parties, any more than a judge or jury is a third party.

So your dilemma would be resolved by reference to those nominal titles while refraining from any reference to a third party, if in fact there is no involved party who is also not aligned with party 1 or party 2.

If you are expressing in a legal sense, in a mediation (non-binding) or arbitration (binding) setting, then the enumeration of parties (between party the first and party the second) would depend on the nature of the dispute, hence of the action. An action in contracts would typically pit a first party payor against a second party payee. In torts a first party plaintiff against a second party defendant, contrariwise with countersuit, In fictional literature, you might say that party 1 is the protagonist, Party 2 the foil, party 3 the antagonist. In grammar, party one is I, two is you, three is (s)he.

When you say, to the effect, neutral, unbiased, disinterested, no finger in the pie, you answer your own question: such a person can be neither first, second nor a third party.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.