Frequently Asked Questions - Neutral Case Evaluation

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1. What is neutral case evaluation?

Neutral case evaluation (NCE) gives parties in dispute an early and clear evaluation by an objective observer or "evaluator" of the merits of each party’s case. It is used when the parties disagree significantly about the value of their cases.

2. When is NCE useful?

NCE is particularly appropriate when the dispute involves technical or factual issues that lend themselves to expert evaluation, and when the top decision-makers of one or more of the parties could be better informed about the real strengths and weaknesses of their cases. NCE can enhance direct communication between the parties about their claims and supporting evidence and provide an assessment of the merits of the case by a neutral expert. In addition, it can provide a "reality check" for clients and lawyers and help to identify and clarify the central issues in dispute.

3. How does NCE differ from mediation and arbitration?

NCE is not a negotiation process like mediation, nor does it provide a decision like judicial arbitration. The evaluator provides a recommendation or evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of a case. The evaluation is not binding. Parties can use this information to negotiate a resolution, or can request a mediation to assist the negotiations.

4. How is the evaluator selected?

The parties agree upon and select the evaluator. The ADR Program will provide you with a list of evaluators who say they have expertise in the specific area of your dispute.

5. How much will it cost?

The first two hours of evaluation and 30 minutes of scheduling and preparation time are free. If you choose to continue beyond the two hours you must pay the rate indicated by the evaluator in their panel listing. The parties routinely share the fee. All fees are paid directly to the evaluator. You may choose someone who is not on the ADR Panel list and you will need to pay the rate specified by the evaluator. You must also inform the Court and the ADR Program of your selection.

6. How do I prepare for NCE?

Preparing for NCE is very much like preparing for arbitration. You must prepare and submit information to the evaluator at least five court days before the hearing. The information should include: (a) name and relationship to the case of all parties who will attend the hearing, (b) a brief statement of the legal and factual issues in the case, including your views on liability and damages, and (c) copies of any documents that will help the evaluator understand the issues in the dispute. This is not a negotiation.


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