Each month we pose a question to the diverse and experienced panel of Alterity ADR neutrals and share their wisdom, thoughts, and opinions on dispute resolution.
In November, with the economy a major factor in the recent midterm elections, we asked:
Inflation remains a major concern across the legal profession, with reports of more modifications to spousal support; increasing insurer scrutiny over claims (and premiums); and a potentially more cost-conscious jury pool. How does a macroeconomic trend like inflation affect individual disputes, and how can neutrals ensure the outcomes they achieve long-term success?
Stanley Santire, an international arbitrator and mediator, says the cost of disputes can come down by adopting an earlier resolution process:
“Let’s call it a paradigm shift, even if that is sometimes an overused term. Instead of arbitration that can be even more expensive than a court trial, and instead of mediation that is not utilized until the expensive passing of a one- to two-year litigation process, our dispute resolution system needs to adopt an earlier resolution process, such as early dispute resolution.
“In other words, mediation needs to be ahead of the very beginning of litigation or arbitration initiation. It would not displace them; however, it would reduce the need.”
Janné McKamey, an arbitrator and mediator, offers this:
“I think it is imperative that neutrals in domestic relations cases be sure to keep up with the correct calculations and applicable court required worksheets. Neutrals must also be understanding that individuals’ incomes and even job situations are more fluid than ever before and be able to realistically and professionally convey those situations to both sides.
“In general civil matters, neutrals need to make sure to let all sides know that it is incumbent upon them to be truthful as to their financial situations and be prepared to back that up with documentation.”
And Jeff Kravitz, an arbitrator and mediator, says this:
“One way would be to put in a kicker for inflation. For example, if a case settles for $1 million, there could be an additional payment of x if at the end of a year (for example) inflation remained at y.”