What is Early Neutral Evaluation?

Early Neutral Evaluation is a consensual, confidential, and relatively informal process in which parties to a dispute use the services of an independent, neutral Evaluator to provide a non-binding Evaluation of the facts, evidence, and legal merits of the matters in dispute.

The primary objective of Early Neutral Evaluation processes is to allow the parties to assess in an informed and accurate manner the strength of their case, or the potential outcome should the dispute proceed before the courts or to arbitration.

What are the advantages of Early Neutral Evaluation?

Early Neutral Evaluation is quick, inexpensive, and confidential. Early Neutral Evaluation allows an extraordinary amount of flexibility and informality that blends the advantages of a judicial settlement conference, mediation, and independent expert determination of the dispute and allows the parties to effectively choose their own ‘judge’.

When should Early Neutral Evaluation be used as a dispute resolution process?

The process is specifically designed for disputes which are already in litigation or arbitration. Generally, all types of disputes are suitable for Early Neutral Evaluation provided that the parties and their representatives are committed to the prompt and cost effective resolution of the dispute and they are prepared and committed to participating in the process in good faith.

The Evaluation issued as a result of the process is not binding on the parties (unless they agree otherwise). Rather, the Evaluation provides the parties with an independent assessment or evaluation of the issue that has arisen between them. This may be particularly useful where:

  • the parties are far apart on their view of the law and/or the value of the dispute;
  • the case involves technical or specialised subject matter and it is important to engage a neutral third party with expertise in that subject;
  • communications between parties about merits and/or procedure could be improved;
  • the case has the potential for a prolonged period of interventions by the courts before a hearing; or
  • the case has the potential for a long and costly hearing.
Do I need a lawyer?

Yes. Whilst most of our processes do not require Parties to be represented by a lawyer, Early Neutral Evaluation is different. The process is designed for Parties who are already engaged in litigation or arbitration and works best when the Parties are able to be advised throughout by their lawyer who is also representing them in the litigation or arbitration process.

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