In order to be successful in business, owners must be able to identify and plan for legal issues that may affect their interests. The use of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods is an effective way to resolve business disputes effectively and efficiently outside the courtroom. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to a variety of processes that help parties resolve disputes without a trial. Typical ADR processes include mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation, and collaborative law. This article addresses the ADR process of neutral evaluation.

Early Neutral Evaluation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which the parties present their case to a neutral party, and the neutral party provides a non-binding assessment of the likely court outcome. This evaluation is performed early in the process with the aim of a quick and cost-effective resolution of the dispute. The neutral party in many cases is an experienced and respected attorney with expertise in the substantive area of the dispute. At the evaluation, each party presents its claims or defenses and describes the evidence on which its claims or defenses are based. The evaluation session is informal and the rules of evidence do not apply. After the evaluation session concludes, the parties may agree to participate in follow-up sessions to further facilitate settlement. A written evaluation is rendered a few weeks after the evaluation concludes. The parties can seek

additional clarification of the evaluation from the evaluator. With an objective evaluation, the parties have a realistic view of the court outcome. This may lead to settlement. Parties adopt Early Neutral Evaluation as a part of their contractual dispute settlement procedures by Early Neutral Evaluation clauses into their contracts.

For more information, please contact an experienced attorney at the law firm of Paulson & Paulson, PLC.