The Problem: A Big Gap in Civil Justice
Here’s the problem our services address: Our civil justice system serves small claims and high stakes disputes well, but a virtual “no man’s land” of injustice occupies the gap in between, where legal fees and related costs of going to court or alternative (ADR) forums in common disputes routinely consume more time and money than the disputes are worth. Consequently, whenever early negotiations fail to settle these limited stakes disputes fairly, all involved face a no-win choice between a too-long, economically futile process and giving up valuable rights.
The Traditional Alternatives
Following are the most common dispute resolution methods employed in the gap.
Advantages Before Any Dispute Arises
Negotiation is the process by which differing parties or their attorneys negotiate a compromise settlement. If this succeeds early enough and approximates a fair and principled outcome, it can deliver real justice to all parties. (Choosing to use Just Resolve if negotiations fail does not disrupt this path and in fact enhances it. See Advantages During a Dispute below.)
DO NOTHING (OR SURRENDER)
Do nothing or surrender involves foregoing a believed valid legal claim, or caving into a grossly extortionate pre-lawsuit demand, because it will cost too much in time and money to litigate. This saves time and legal fees, but fails to deliver an outcome that even remotely resembles real justice financially or psychologically.
Litigation is formal judicial process in court, with public trial to judge or jury and possible appeal. Opposing attorneys drive this one-size-fits-all process, which usually includes extensive formal discovery (e.g. depositions and interrogatories), discovery disputes, formal pleading and procedural disputes, evidentiary disputes, trial preparation, extensive research, briefing and hearing cycles, and layered schedule coordination and accommodation. For disputes in the gap, litigation almost always takes too long and costs too much relative to what is at stake, even if settled before trial.
Arbitration is private judging under provider-specified rules usually allowing discovery and attorney advocacy as in litigation but without a right to appeal. While arbitration can be somewhat streamlined compared with the courts, its time and costs generally suffer the same uneconomic path and outcome for the same reasons
Mediation is a negotiation that is facilitated by a professional neutral, with the neutral usually “shuttling” back and forth between the opposing parties (and their attorneys). Its success depends on the parties compromising their principles in light of the high costs and uncertainties of persevering to a principled decision. It is usually preceded by at least some attorney-driven formal process including investigation, discovery, and briefing. While its success can be less expensive than the court system or arbitration, if it fails, it tends to increase total costs and time to resolution.
THE ADVANTAGES OF CHOOSING JUST RESOLVE
Just Resolve keeps the best features from the traditional alternatives, jettisons the rest, and employs its unique neutral-driven method to enable stakes-appropriate fixed-fee pricing in a fast, reliable, and fair process. In short, Just Resolve delivers real justice to limited stakes disputes in the civil justice gap. The advantages of choosing this approach are not limited to what happens during a dispute. In fact, they start long before a dispute and also survive its close.
ADVANTAGES BEFORE ANY DISPUTE ARISES
Get Free Litigation “Insurance”
When parties specify Just Resolve for dispute resolution in a contract, they protect themselves against being threatened with or forced into costly and distracting litigation if a covered dispute later arises. While rare situations may still require formal litigation (e.g. the involvement of critical third parties who have not agreed to Just Resolve), the parties can generally expect the courts to honor and enforce their agreement to avoid the legal and other costs of litigation.
Learn Who You’re Dealing With
When you propose Just Resolve to other parties in contracts, you will learn much about them and how they (and their attorneys) are likely to behave, both as contract partners and in the event a dispute arises. Are they win-win oriented, fair-minded, practical and open to better practice, or are they likely to be formalistic, maneuver for advantage, and use economic leverage? This is valuable intelligence whether or not they accept.
Be Your Best Business Partner
When you include Just Resolve in a contract, you are committing to a win-win, honest-dealing, and dignified relationship in every respect, no matter what may happen. This enhances your reputation and may save a valuable relationship if it suffers a misunderstanding along the way, regardless of which side may be at fault.
Have It Your Way
Not all relationships and disputes are alike. Just Resolve’s method is flexible and customizable. For example, contracts that specify Just Resolve can set upper limits on covered dispute sizes or kinds, designate other methods for larger disputes, build in mediation or time limits, opt for or against a right to appeal and provide a purely Advisory Opinion or recommendation instead of a binding decision.
Enjoy Greater Peace of Mind
The above advantages let you focus on business knowing you have done all you can to protect profitability, minimize costs, save time and minimize distractions from risks caused by unexpected failures, human error, financial greed or desperation, and overly aggressive, opportunistic lawyering.
ADVANTAGES DURING A DISPUTE
Improve the Prospect of a Fast, Fair Negotiation
When parties agree to use Just Resolve and a dispute arises, because litigation is off the table, with only a fast, fair, affordable and truth-focused process looming, the parties and their attorneys share a level playing field and have far less incentive and ability to posture, try intimidation, or demand unreasonable concessions. This is especially effective in dealing with aggressive, opportunistic lawyers and contract partners who turn out not to be who you thought they were.
Help Choose Who Will Investigate and Decide
Just Resolve’s judicial quality selection process assures that Arbiter candidates are skilled neutrals and free of conflicts of interest, with the right expertise based on input from the parties. If you have a candidate to suggest, Just Resolve will vet that candidate among others. You can accept a recommendation by Just Resolve, or veto, for any reason at all, one of at least three qualified candidates presented.
Save a Lot of Money and Time
In all advocate-driven resolution processes, less than 1/3 of attorney time is spent on truth-focused investigation and analysis of the relevant facts and substantive law, and this is 100% duplicated for each side in a dispute. Just Resolve’s neutral-driven method eliminates the unnecessary 2/3+ of time and divides the cost of the remaining 1/3 equally among the parties. This enables Just Resolve to shorten time to resolution and reduce each party’s total costs of resolution by 3 to 6 times compared with traditional alternatives.
Know the Cost Up Front and That It Will Make Sense
Just Resolve’s neutral-driven method enables it and the parties’ chosen Arbiters to reliably estimate in advance the workload necessary to fully investigate and resolve a dispute, taking into account the limited financial stakes of the dispute, so that Just Resolve can charge each party a fixed (or not-to-exceed) fee that is stakes-appropriate, which we guarantee to be < 25% of stakes, and thereby deliver real and affordable justice in every dispute we administer. Unlike open-ended billable hours charged by attorneys, the fixed fee aligns the interests of all participants.
Directly Guide and Tell Your Story to the Decision-Maker
The more go-betweens there are in any chain of communication, the more likely something important will be lost in translation. Just Resolve’s method provides you direct, real-time access to the person(s) investigating and deciding your dispute, without procedural barriers of any kind. Convey your goals and concerns, and tell your story, with the confidence that what’s most important to you is being heard and heeded. (Of course, if this makes you nervous, you’re free to choose someone else to liaise with the Arbiter(s).)
Endure Far Less Distraction and Stress
One of the biggest costs of the traditional alternatives is hidden and seldom accounted for in projections of legal costs. Just Resolve greatly reduces your and your staff’s distraction from what you know and do best, saving hundreds of hours in formal discovery, coordination, and stressful preparation and anxiety over and above the described savings in legal and other professional time and fees. Knowing that you’re covered by a dignified, guaranteed fair process that is both swift and affordable also promotes peace of mind. In Short, No Other Limited-Stakes Dispute Resolution Method Combines Fairness, Affordability, Speed, Privacy, Reliability, Dignity and Peace of Mind like Just Resolve.
ADVANTAGES AFTER A DISPUTE IS OVER
Preserve and Enhance Your Reputation
Today’s best businesses have learned that their reputations for honest and fair dealing, with a win-win approach to relationships, is far more valuable, and leads to much higher short and long-term profits, than a reputation for hard-nosed, win-at-all-costs, maximum leverage confrontations. Choosing and using Just Resolve is conscious capitalism at its best.
Potentially Save a Valuable Relationship
Not every relationship should or can be saved. Sometimes the loss of trust and confidence is just too great. But accepting responsibility for one’s own mistakes, and not being unnecessarily punitive in dealing with others’ mistakes, can go a long way to salvage and restore both. Just Resolve raises this potential several fold.
TOTAL ESTIMATED COSTS COMPARISON IN A TYPICAL $100,000 COMMERCIAL DISPUTE
|Kinds of Costs (Per Party)||Litigation||Just Resolve|
|Legal/Prof. Fees||$100,000 thru trial ($67,000 if settles)*||<$24,000|
Management (@ hours x $100)
Staff (@ hours x $30)
|Risks to Reputation/Relationship||+?|
|Stress and Frustration||+?|
|Planning (delays and cash flow)||+?|
|SUBTOTAL||$113,000+ (80,000+ if settles)||<$28,000|
|Win (W) or Lose (L) on Merits||+/- $0 to $100,000||+/- $0 to $100,000|
|TOTAL NET GAIN OR LOSS (per party)||-$13,000* (W) to -$213,000 (L)||+$72,000 (W) to -$128,000 (L)|
|Time to Resolution||6+ mos. to 2 years||<7 weeks to 3 mos.|
*It is the nature of limited-stakes disputes in our legal system that legal work thru trial tends to consume all of the amount in dispute. If, instead, the parties endure discovery and recognize they are in a no-win war of attrition in time to settle before trial, each side is likely already to have spent at least 2/3 of those legal costs. Even if a claimant who would have won gets an unlikely $80,000 payment in settlement, that only improves the best case net result for that “successful” claimant to about break even, i.e. “0” net gain at the bottom of the table.