A mini-trial is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method that allows parties to resolve conflicts without resorting to a court trial. Although a mini-trial does not result in a formal judgment, it allows the parties in conflict to arrive at a mutually-acceptable solution by means of a structured settlement process. It can be particularly effective when complex commercial issues are involved.
Mini-trials are most commonly used to resolve larger-scale conflicts involving areas such as antitrust and product liability. In the mini-trial each party presents its case but with the significant difference that they in fact “try” the case themselves and the presentations are much shorter than they would be in a court trial.
The parties in dispute sign an agreement indicating that they consent to having their conflict resolved by means of a mini-trial. Each party then chooses representatives from management to sit on the panel.The representatives must have the authority to negotiate a settlement.
Top management representatives from both parties to the dispute hear the case presented by lawyers and experts in the field. Sometimes a neutral adviser, who can also be an expert in the subject area, conducts the hearing. After hearing the presentations the management representatives work to reach a resolution of the dispute.If they are not able to reach agreement, they can ask the neutral advisor’s advice on the most likely outcome and then resume the negotiation process.
The presence of top management representing both sides in the dispute, and the exchange of information are the keys to a mini-trial’s success. The presentations allow the management representatives to view the dispute as an outsider would see it, which can be helpful in setting the tone for a mutually-agreeable settlement.
If the mini-trial results in an agreement the terms and conditions are put into writing and the representatives of both parties sign the agreement, which is legally binding. One of the benefits to the parties is that the proceedings remain confidential and any statements made in the mini-trial are inadmissible in a court trial.
The experienced attorneys in the Juslaws & Consult ADR Practice always strive to advise clients on resolving conflicts in a manner that is most suitable to their business and the dispute at hand. Our professionals are adept at helping clients reach favorable outcomes by litigation as well as ADR processes conducted outside the courtroom.