Alternative dispute resolution or ADR generally refers
to a broad range of processes designed to assist parties to resolve disputes.
Under local rule DUCivR 16-2 and the
ADR Plan, the District of Utah offers
two less-formal dispute resolution methods: arbitration
and mediation. The District offers these at a small
fee to the parties, and referral to ADR is made on a voluntary
basis unless the presiding judge otherwise orders. Civil cases filed in the
District, except those excluded under DUCivR
16-2(c), may opt either for arbitration or mediation. Bankruptcy adversary
proceedings, appeals from Bankruptcy Court, and reviews of judgments from administrative
law forums, however, qualify only for mediation.
To opt into ADR before discovery is complete, parties may elect arbitration or mediation on the
Certification of Selection of ADR form that the District Court requires each party to submit with
the attorney report. After discovery, parties may still opt for ADR by submitting a motion and
proposed order for referral to ADR to the presiding judge. Parties select their arbitrator or
mediator from a list of experienced attorneys that the Court has appointed to serve as neutrals.
With approximately ninety-five percent of all civil cases being resolved before
trial, ADR can serve as an effective tool for early case evaluation and resolution,
resulting in less time and lower costs than traditional litigation. For more
information about the Court's ADR Program, contact the ADR Coordinator at 801-524-6196.
Litigation vs. Arbitration vs. Mediation
|Parties Retain Control
|Cost of Result
|Type of Result
In the District Court's arbitration program, the arbitrator hears and decides
the case with the formal standards of evidence and discovery relaxed to the degrees
agreed on by the arbitrator in consultation with the parties and their attorneys.
If the parties agree, they can stipulate to having a panel of three arbitrators
jointly hear the case. Unless the parties stipulate or the assigned judge orders
otherwise, the arbitration award is non-binding, and the parties have thirty days
after the filing of the award to request a trial de novo. All proceedings are
confidential and awards are sealed until entered as a final judgment.
In the District of Utah's mediation program, a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the parties
to negotiate a mutually satisfactory settlement to their dispute. Meeting jointly and separately
with the parties, the mediator helps the parties: (i) clarify their needs and interests; (ii) improve
communication; and (iii) generate mutually agreeable options to resolve the dispute. The
mediation ends when the parties either (i) craft a mutually acceptable agreement or (ii) reach an
impasse. As with arbitration, the mediation process is confidential and the parties' expenses in
time and money typically are significantly lower that what a trial would entail.
Court-appointed neutrals set their own rate. Hourly compensation applies to each hour of service in an
arbitration hearing or mediation conference. Parties split
the neutral's fee evenly between the plaintiff and defendant unless otherwise agreed. Parties
should make payment arrangements with the assigned neutral at their first meeting. An insolvent
party may petition the court to waive their portion of the neutral's fee.
Parties may select an arbitrator or mediator from a roster of highly experienced
and court-appointed attorneys who specialize in a variety of legal areas. Parties
also may request a neutral who is not on the roster to serve pro tem as the arbitrator
or mediator. The Court requires all of its ADR roster neutrals to have practiced
law for at least ten years and to complete ADR training. However, pro tem neutrals
may be any person with subject matter expertise who has been approved by the Court.
All arbitrators and mediators serve at no expense to the parties.