Dispute Resolution Procedures
There are at least three ways cases can enter an ADR process:
- Some cases are automatically assigned to an ADR process (e.g., personal injury cases with a probable jury verdict of less than $150,000 go to CAAP, small claims cases are referred to mediation, etc.)
- You may submit a written agreement and proposed order to enter an ADR process with the assigned judge
- The assigned judge may order the case to ADR
Counsel, individually or jointly, can request an ADR referral at any time. The court encourages the use of ADR early as it may be potentially helpful.
You should consider ADR early, whether you are seeking assistance with settlement or case management. The cost of completing full “discovery” (the process of exchanging information) before an ADR session may outweigh the potential cost savings. If you are using ADR for settlement purposes, you should know enough about your case to assess its value and identify its major strengths and weaknesses.
Assignment to an ADR process generally does not affect the status of your case in litigation. Judges sometimes may postpone certain actions until after the parties have had an ADR session. If your case does not settle through ADR, it remains on the trial track.
Getting settlement discussions started
Sometimes parties or attorneys are reluctant to initiate discussions. The availability of multiple ADR options allows parties to explore settlement potential without the perception that they are hinting at or disclosing any weakness in their cases.
Saving time and money
An ADR process can provide a safe and early opportunity to discuss settlement before (and sometimes during and after) trial. However, for various reasons, direct settlement discussions often do not occur until late in the lawsuit after much time and money have been spent. These resources may be preserved if parties actively explore settlement as early as possible.
Providing momentum, and a “back up”
Often parties successfully negotiate an early resolution on their own. Even if you are negotiating a settlement by yourself, you can consider using an ADR process as a “back up” in the event the case does not settle. Meanwhile, knowing that you have a date for the ADR process may help by providing momentum and a “deadline” for your direct settlement discussions.
Overcoming obstacles to settlement
The adversarial nature of litigation often makes it difficult for attorneys and parties to negotiate a settlement. An ADR neutral may help overcome barriers to settlement by using information from each side selectively to:
- help parties talk productively
- help each party understand the other party’s views and interests
- communicate views or proposals in different, more neutral language
- assess how one party’s proposals might be received by the other
- help parties realistically assess their alternatives to settlement
- help generate creative solutions
Improving case management
The process of exchanging information can be expensive, time consuming, and may fail to focus on the most important issues in the case. An early meeting with a neutral may help parites agree to a focused, cost-effective plan to exchange information according to official procedures, or may help them agree to a more informal method.
Most cases in the courts are resolved without a trial. If you don’t raise your best arguments in settlement discussions, you risk failing to achieve the best result for your side. You need not reveal your trial strategy. However, you might find it useful to raise it in a confidential separate session with the neutral (available during mediation or a settlement conference). You and the neutral can discuss the significance of sensitive information and whether or when sharing it with the other side may help you in settlement negotiations.
Dispute Resolution Procedures
- Why does the Court offer ADR?
- What is ADR?
- How can ADR help in my case?
- Which ADR processes does the court offer?
- Which is the most suitable ADR process for my case?
- How likely is each ADR process to deliver the specific benefit?
- What else do I need to know?
- How do I get my case into an ADR process?
- When can I get my case into an ADR process?
- When is the best time to use ADR?
- How much information should be exchanged first?
- Will ADR affect my case’s status on the trial track?
- How might ADR be better than the parties meeting on their own?
- Won’t I risk giving away my trial strategy in ADR?
- Where can I get more information?
- ADR Providers