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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

What is ADR?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the term used to describe all the other options available for settling a dispute that at one time was required to be litigated in court.

ADR processes are less formal than court proceedings and provide opportunities for litigants to reach an agreement using a problem-solving approach rather than the more adversarial approach of litigation.

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ADR - Mediation FAQs by Counsel/Parties

Click on the topics and FAQs below for more information.

In mediation, a neutral third party called a "mediator" helps participants in the dispute create their own resolution. The mediator makes no decision or findings about the facts of the case and makes no award. Rather, the mediator helps facilitate a discussion in which the parties reach a mutually agreed upon settlement. Therefore, mediation allows for more creative resolutions to disputes than continued litigation and/or arbitration.
To accomplish this, mediators foster communication among the parties to:

  • Clarify issues, interests and needs;
  • Explore the merits of each party's positions;
  • Identify possible options for resolution.

One of the primary goals of mediation is enhancing the future relationship of the parties involved in the dispute, so the process is less adversarial in form than either litigation or arbitration. For example, the rules of evidence and formal court procedures do not apply to mediation.
Sometimes mediation does not result in an agreement or resolution. In these cases, the parties have the right to return to court for a litigated decision. If the case returns to court, the mediator cannot be called to testify or produce notes or records of the mediation, as the rules of evidence are not the same for mediation as they are for litigation.
While not all mediators are attorneys, the mediators on the Court's panel have received training or have the experience required by California law to be mediators for the Court.

Where the parties have requested mediation and the Court determines the suitability of a case for mediation, the Court then directs the attorneys or parties to the ADR administrator's office to initiate the process. This process begins with the attorneys or parties:

  • Obtaining and completing the Mediation Intake form and;
  • Delivering the completed Intake form to the ADR administrator.

Once the completed Intake form has been delivered to the ADR administrator, the parties may obtain a mediator by:

  • A random assignment from the Court's "Random Select" panel (mediators on this panel provide up to three (3) hours of pro bono time)
  • Selecting a mediator from the Court's "Party Select" panel at your own cost.
  • Selecting a mediator not on the Court's panel at your own cost. In this case, parties must notify the ADR office in writing of the intention to pursue private Mediation services.

After the parties have notified the ADR administrator of their selection (or the court has performed a random selection), the ADR administrator will issue a Notice of Appointment of Mediator, sending a copy to the selected Mediator and all parties or their attorney of record.

The appointed Mediator contacts the parties/attorneys within 10 days of the Notice of Appointment.

The cost varies, depending upon whether the parties/attorneys select a mediator from the Court's "Random Select" or "Party Select" panel or choose a private mediator. The mediators on the Court's "Random Select" panel have agreed to provide up to three (3) hours of hearing time per case without compensation by the parties/attorneys.
For any additional hours, compensation will be negotiated between the parties and mediator and will be the responsibility of the parties.
The mediators on the Court's "Party Select" panel shall confer with the parties and agree on the fees and expenses of the mediation, which will be the responsibility of the parties.

The mediation is normally arranged through the mediator at a neutral location.

Note: Court facilities may not be used for mediations, unless ordered by the Court or requested by the ADR Administrator.

The time for Mediation 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. Mediation should be completed within 60 days of the Notice of Appointment of Mediator. That period may be extended up to 30 (thirty) days by the Court upon showing of good cause. [CRC § 3.896]

If a settlement occurs prior to the scheduled Mediation, counsel for the parties/ or the parties themselves, must notify the mediator and the ADR administrator immediately and in no case less than 2 days prior to the time set for hearing. [CRC § 3.1385]

Local Rules require that all parties and decision makers must be present. [LR § 6.17]

The Mediator is an impartial, neutral intermediary, whose role is to help the participants reach a settlement. The mediator will not impose a settlement, but will assist the parties in exploring settlement options. The Mediator does not communicate with the Court except to file a Statement of Agreement/Non Agreement.

Counsel and clients should be prepared to discuss all relevant issues. Before the meeting, clients and counsel should discuss the mediation process and understand it is confidential and non-binding. As part of the preparation, counsel are encouraged to discuss with their clients a complete and reasonable litigation budget, without downplaying the costs of proceeding to trial.

Counsel and clients should be prepared both to state their own position and to listen carefully to that of the other side. Persuasive and forceful communication is encouraged, but civility and mutual respect is vital. Hostile or argumentative tactics are likely to cause positions to become deep-rooted and thus discourage progress.

LR § 6.18 requires that parties prepare and give information about their case to the mediator. Parties may use the local court form entitled Mediation Statement [RUL-6-ADR.010] or use their own paper to address the topics outlined in LR § 6.18(b).

Each mediator has their own technique and work style when conducting mediations. However, the following is an example of how a mediation session may be conducted:

The mediator's opening statement discusses the process, the stages, the mediator's role and the confidentiality requirements. All present will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement specifically agreeing to hold confidential all discussions in mediation. [CCP § 1775.10; § 1775.12; Evidence Code § 1122]

Each party will present its uninterrupted opening statement setting forth its position regarding the facts and the law.
After the opening statement, the mediator and parties may ask each other questions or respond to the opening statements. Most mediators will allow this process to continue as long as it appears to be useful.

Thereafter, the mediator will usually call for a private discussion with each side, sometimes called a caucus. During this time, statements previously made in the joint sessions are explored more fully.

In private discussion, clients and counsel should assist the mediator in understanding the issues and interests at stake. The parties may wish to disclose confidential information to the mediator during these discussions. The mediator will help the parties and counsel to see the strengths, weaknesses, positions, arguments, risks and possibilities of their case.

Either in private discussion or joint session, the mediator may assist the parties in generating and exchanging proposals for settling the case. When the parties reach a settlement agreement, all essential terms will be reduced in writing which will be an enforceable contract if the parties so agree. [Evidence Code § 1123]

Although the parties are urged to exercise restraint with respect to conducting discovery while in mediation, any party who participates in mediation retains the right to obtain discovery. [CCP § 1775.11; LR § 6.19]

ADR - Mediation FAQ's by Mediators

Click on the topics and FAQs below for more information.

  • Review names of the Parties/Counsel of Record for potential conflicts of interest. [CRC § 3.855]
    • Note: if there is a conflict, advise the court immediately. A Notice Vacating the Appointment will be sent.
  • Contact parties/counsel of record to schedule the Mediation session.
  • Set the Mediation session date within 10 days of Notice of Appointment of Mediator for a date not to exceed the required completion date of Mediation (within 60 days of the Notice of the Appointment of Mediator). [CRC § 3.896]
    • Clearly identify the Date, Time and the Location of the mediation session.
    • Clearly state your expectation(s) as to who should appear at the mediation session. [Refer to L.R. § 6.17 & CRC § 3.894]
    • Suggestion: Indicate to parties/counsel(s) of record what pleadings, exhibits and any legal briefs that are expected to be received at or prior to the mediation session.
    • Suggestion (for "Random Select" mediators only): Prior to the session, remind parties/counsel of record that pursuant to L.R. § 6.8, the first 3 hours are provided free of charge. For any additional hours, compensation will need to be negotiated between the parties and mediator, unless the mediator agrees to provide that service pro bono.
    • Suggestion (for "Party Select" mediators only): Prior to the session, compensation will need to be negotiated between the parties and mediator.
    • Note: The mediator is permitted to inspect the Court's file during normal business hours. Pursuant to L.R. § 6.1, the file shall remain in the possession of the Clerk of the Court.

No. However, a neutral location is highly desirable.

Note: Court facilities may not be used for mediations, unless ordered by the Court or requested by the ADR Administrator.

  • Obtain signatures of parties/counsel on Acknowledgement of Confidentiality for Mediation Process.
  • Conduct the session.
  • Have all parties complete the Attendance Sheet for Court-Program Mediation of Civil Case. [Judicial Council Form: ADR-107] Retain for at least two years. (Refer to CRC § 3.860)

Please reduce any agreement reached at Mediation to writing.

Mail the original Statement of Agreement/Non Agreement to the Court with Proof of Service of copy sent to parties/counsel(s) of record. [Judicial Council Form: ADR-100]

  • Advise parties/counsel(s) of record that a written stipulation & order should be submitted to the court. See form: Stipulation & Order for Extension of Mediation.
  • Request a copy of the conformed Stipulation & Order.
  • Reschedule Mediation session accordingly.

  • If a party wishes to lodge a complaint against you, provide the party with a copy of the ADR Mediator Complaint Form found in the Mediation Program binder.
  • Refer that party to the ADR Administrator [L.R. § 6.22]

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