In the past, there were really only two ways for civil lawsuits to resolved: either the parties negotiated a compromise on their own before getting to trial or the case was litigated through the court process until a judgment or verdict was reached.
Now, most cases in both the District Court and Superior Court divisions are required to go through arbitration or mediation, respectively, before a trial date can be set.
Attorney Hank Doyle has been representing civil litigants, both as Plaintiffs and Defendants, for over 20 years in North Carolina. He has appeared in numerous arbitration hearings for his district court clients. Schedule a consultation to discuss ADR today.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has become a valuable tool to help people settle their civil disputes in North Carolina and across the nation. ADR provides litigants a process by which they can get assistance in settling their cases without the time and costs involved in full-blown litigation.
District Court cases go through the process of arbitration. After the pleadings are filed, the parties will be notified by the Clerk of Court that their case has been assigned to arbitration.
The court will select an arbitrator to hear the case. Arbitrators are selected from a list of qualified arbitrators.
Usually, they have experienced trial attorneys or retired judges. The arbitrator is a disinterested third party that has no stake in the outcome of the arbitration hearing.
The court will schedule the date for the arbitration hearing that the parties and their attorneys are required to attend. The cost is $100.00 that is divided equally by the litigants and paid to the Clerk. The hearing is limited to one hour.
The traditional rules of evidence are not applied but serve as a guide for the conduct of the parties when putting on their evidence. The arbitrator will listen to the evidence presented and make a ruling on the case.
The arbitrator’s decision is NOT binding. Any party that disagrees with the arbitrator’s ruling can reject it and demand a traditional court trial within 30 days of the arbitration ruling. This is known as “trial de novo.” The outcome of the arbitration hearing is not admissible at the trial de novo and will have no influence on the judge or jury.
The value of this process is that it allows both sides of the case to see their strengths and weaknesses. It is like a mini-trial or a rehearsal that can be very educational.
Sometimes, litigants are so convinced of the righteousness of their case, they can’t see any legitimacy in the other side’s position. Arbitration is often able to focus everyone’s thinking and provide a subjective look at the situation.
In the same way, it can be a useful forecast of what would happen in a full-blown jury or bench trial.