A Note on Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Light of COVID-19

Miller & Martin PLLC Blog | April 09, 2020

Recent concerns over the novel coronavirus have impacted virtually every business environment. The court systems are no exception. Many courts have placed deadlines for pending civil cases on hold, while others have encouraged parties to move forward and improvise wherever possible. While courts generally remain available to handle claims for emergency relief, trial dates and hearings have been postponed and may face further delays. These delays will not deny a party the opportunity to have their case resolved, but the schedule for doing so has clearly been extended in almost every case.

This presents an excellent opportunity to re-examine possible alternative means to resolve your dispute or move the ball forward. Mediations can still be accomplished through teleconferencing and videoconferencing. While the parties are not physically present in the same room, the chance to have parties available and focused on a resolution allows the mediator to serve the vital role of providing neutral opinions that can help move a case towards a resolution. Delays (that are now certain) in the litigation process can also change a party’s view of the resources required in the litigation process and provide an opportunity to engage in a re-evaluation of the costs and benefits of the litigation process.

This window of time also allows the parties the chance to explore new ways to move their case forward. Third-party case assessments can help strategy going forward and assure that case valuations are based on sound principles. Agreeing to stay an existing lawsuit in favor of arbitration can also relieve many of the usual uncertainties that can make traditional litigation more costly and frustrating. As our courts begin the process of reopening their doors, there will be a formidable backlog to add to an already burdened system. Arbitration can provide the parties with the chance to set a new timetable and have better control over the use of available technologies to bring cases to a conclusion.

Experienced litigation counsel will take stock of all of these issues and engage in frank discussions with clients on the various paths forward that may not have been previously considered.

We Can Help

To the extent I can assist as a neutral in resolving your case or exploring any of these options, please let me know. We can utilize Microsoft® Teams, Zoom or any available platform or communication tools to get your cases moving and resolved fairly and efficiently.

While many of us are grappling with unexpected delays, we can work together to get things moving and continue in service to our clients. Be safe.

Tags: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, Arbitration, COVID-19, Coronavirus