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ADR Process

Most civil disputes are resolved without filing a lawsuit, and most civil lawsuits are resolved without a trial. The Court and others offer a variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes to help people resolve disputes without going to trial. ADR is usually less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a trial. ADR can also give more opportunity to determine when and how their dispute will be resolved.

How is the process initiated?

An ADR Process may be initiated by the parties at any time after all parties have appeared in the case, by filing a Stipulation to ADR with the Civil Clerk’s Office. If they have not previously done so, parties will be strongly encouraged by the Court to select an ADR process at the first Case Management Conference, and will refer the parties to the Civil Clerk’s Office for further action.

The Court may involuntarily order parties in some cases (unlimited civil cases under $50,000 in value) to Judicial Arbitration, if the parties stipulate to pay the $150 fee. The Court may refer by order (on a voluntary basis) cases to Judicial Arbitration, Civil Mediation or Early Neutral Evaluation.

In all cases, the ADR Process is initiated by filing the Stipulation to ADR and ADR Neutral Selection and Party List with the Civil Clerk’s Office.

How are ADR Neutrals selected?

Parties may select an ADR Neural by searching the ADR Panel Lists on the Court’s Website, or on printed copies of the Lists available at the Civil Clerk’s Office at the Central Justice Center.

After agreeing on one Neutral, plus one Alternate (in the event the first choice is unavailable), parties must complete the ADR Neutral Selection and Party List and file it with the Civil Clerk’s Office.

For the Judicial Arbitration program, parties may, if they are unable to select an Arbitrator from the Court’s Panel, request ADR staff to randomly assign an Arbitrator from the Court’s Panel.

How are Neutrals Notified and ADR Hearings scheduled?

After the parties have notified the Civil Clerk’s Office of their selection through the ADR Neutral Selection and Party List, the Civil Clerk’s Office sends a copy to the Neutral.

The Neutral is requested to contact the parties within 10 days of the date of assignment and schedule the ADR Session. However, if this does not occur, it is Plaintiff’s responsibility to contact the Neutral to schedule an ADR Session date and learn about the Neutral’s expectations in terms of preparation.

How much will it cost?

The cost for Judicial Arbitration is $150, to be shared by the parties. If the parties choose a private arbitrator, they will be required to pay the arbitrator’s market rate.

For the Court’s Civil Mediation Program, all Panel members have agreed to charge a fee of $300, to be shared by the parties, for up to the first two hours of the mediation session. Parties will be required to pay the mediator’s market rate if they desire to continue the mediation past the two hour limit. If the parties choose a private mediator, they will be required to pay the mediator’s market rate for all services.

For the Court’s Early Neutral Evaluation pilot project, all Panel members have agree to charge a fee of $300, to be shared by the parties, for up to the first three hours of the ENE Session and the Neutral’s written evaluation. Parties will be required to pay the evaluator’s market rate if they desire to continue the process beyond the three hour limit.

The market rates for private neutrals can range from $200-$1,000 per hour.

How long does it take?

The time for an ADR process varies, depending upon the complexity of the case. Most cases require only one meeting to come to a resolution, but some cases may require additional sessions. All of the ADR processes must be completed by a date set by the judge, usually within 90 days of the date on which the judge referred the case to an ADR process.

Requests for ADR Hearing continuances

An ADR Session may be extended beyond the completion date only by Court order upon the motion of a party.

ADR completion dates

All ADR processes must be completed within 90 days of the date of assignment, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.

What are my responsibilities if a case settles before the ADR session?

If a settlement occurs prior to a schedule ADR Session, counsel for the parties, or the parties, must notify the Neutral and the Civil Clerk’s Office immediately, and in no case less than 2 days prior to the date set for the ADR Session.

What are my responsibilities after the ADR Session?

Send a completed evaluation form to the Civil Clerk’s Office within 10 days of the last ADR Session.

If the dispute is resolved, enter a dismissal in order to have future status conferences, mandatory settlement conferences, or trial dates vacated.

© 2014 Superior Court of Orange County