Neutral evaluation may be provided by the courts or other organisations besides the courts.
For neutral evaluation by the CDRC, you must be represented by a lawyer. The evaluators are State Court judges.
The neutral evaluation process in the CDRC starts with a preliminary conference. This is usually within 21 days after a case has been referred for neutral evaluation.
In general, you do not need to attend the first session if you are represented by a lawyer. If necessary, you may be asked to attend future sessions.
This preliminary conference is for the lawyers to discuss with the judge:
Before attending a neutral evaluation hearing, you and your lawyer should:
You, the other party and your lawyers will present your case and evidence to the evaluator. Key witnesses from both sides will also testify.
The process is as follows:
Plaintiff's initial presentation
You, your lawyer and your key witnesses will present your case.
Defendant’s initial presentation
The defendant, the defendant’s lawyer and their key witnesses will present their case.
Questioning by the evaluator
The evaluator will ask questions to clarify the information given and may identify areas of agreement or disagreement. This may occur at any time during the hearing.
Testimony from expert witnesses
Expert witnesses may be called to testify.
Both you and the defendant make your final statements.
The evaluator will give an oral assessment of the merits of each party's case.
Expert witnesses may testify in a method called witness conferencing. This is where witnesses:
You and the other party will record a consent judgment or settlement agreement.
If any party fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement, the other may enforce it as a court order. There is no need for another hearing before a judge.
The judge may recommend other dispute resolution options or direct both parties to take steps to proceed to a trial.
The judge who conducted your neutral evaluation will not be the judge conducting the trial. The information discussed during the neutral evaluation process will remain confidential and will not be revealed to the trial judge.
The judge will make an assessment of the merits of the case during neutral evaluation.
You should do the following:
Ensure that both you and your client (if the client's attendance is required) set aside sufficient time for the neutral evaluation session.
If the client is representing an organisation or company, ensure that they have been given the authority to settle the case. If your client has to consult someone, ensure that they are able to contact the person via phone during the session.