How does Just Resolve save time, money and stress compared to other alternative dispute methods?
Just Resolve uses Neutral-Driven Dispute Resolution (NDR), a method developed by Rob Christopher that is unlike litigation, arbitration, mediation, or other forms of dispute resolution in which an adversarial, lawyer-driven process leads to high costs. These costs typically consume or exceed the amount at stake in common disputes.
NDR uses neutral arbiters or experts to objectively investigate a dispute and render a fair decision that is binding on the parties. It eliminates the major sources of cost and delay typical of advocate-driven legal process — discovery, trial preparation, briefings, formal pleadings and evidentiary disputes, etc. Using NDR, disputes can be resolved in 3-7 weeks for a reasonable fixed fee through three steps:
- Neutral team selection (and dispute definition)
- Investigation (and analysis)
- Decision (both tentative with feedback and final)
Consequently, NDR eliminates more than two-thirds of the work (and billable time) typically expended by each party’s attorney, staff and paid industry experts. With no time spent on legal maneuvering, this fast, fair process also relieves a lot of the hidden costs of litigation, such as the parties’ distracted time and stress that accompany contract and other business disputes.
What is a “limited-stakes dispute?"
Broadly, it is any dispute in which the legal costs of a formal, lawyer-driven adversarial process are likely to consume most or all of the financial stakes for each party. In practical terms, it is a dispute for which the financial stakes lie in that range between small claims cases (from which courts exclude lawyers, usually less than $5,000 or $10,000 in value) and high-stakes disputes like “bet-the-company” and other “must-win-at-any-cost” situations. Limited stakes disputes are important to at least one of the parties in principle or practical consequence. In other words, it’s a dispute whose outcome can make a difference between a project or transaction being profitable. The boundary between limited and high stakes is not fixed, though many conscientious lawyers discourage litigating claims below $300,000 to $500,000 because they expect that their time and legal fees will consume the stakes.
What does Just Resolve Cost?
Just Resolve’s services will usually cost each disputing party well less than one-fourth (25%) of the dispute value, or “stakes,” and in all events only a fraction of (usually 3-6X less than) adversarial alternatives, whether the parties agree to a fixed, not-to-exceed, or hourly-based fee. The fixed fee is an important innovation that does what many businesses have long wished for instead of the highly unpredictable costs of legal services by the billable hour. It also aligns the interests of the neutral professional(s) with those of the parties to invest time and cost proportionate with what is at stake. Finally, you can have justice that is affordable. For more information on what Just Resolve costs, see our pricing and total costs of litigation calculator.
Is a Just Resolve decision binding, and if so, how is it enforced?
Whether a Just Resolve decision is binding or advisory is up to the parties. The disputing parties decide in advance whether the process in any given case is binding. Just Resolve strongly recommends that the parties opt for a binding resolution so they realize the full benefits and savings of the process. The parties’ agreement is enforceable in court like any other contract, except in situations where the law expressly prohibits such agreements. See Three-Step Process
Can Just Resolve be written into contracts ahead of a potential dispute?
Yes, business and many other contracts may specify an agreed or preferred resolution method and service in advance of any dispute. Contact us or subscribe to one of our inexpensive protection plans to get help introducing and examples of potential Just Resolve contract language.
Is Just Resolve right for all business disputes?
No. Just Resolve is not “one size fits all.” Some disputes are so large, important or complex that separate counsel, a jury verdict, and other rights afforded by our judicial system are warranted in the best interests of obtaining justice. And we don’t expect people or organizations who want to “win at all costs,” or who are determined to “work” the legal system to frustrate the other side, or who are economic bullies intent on exploiting superior wealth to choose Just Resolve. Just Resolve is also not suitable in situations where a critical third-party refuses to cooperate. But Just Resolve is right for the vast majority of common commercial disputes (e.g., breach of contract) among people and organizations who:
- Believe that they are right and are not interested in gaming the system.
- Are familiar with the usual costs and experience of adversarial forums and seek a timely, cost-efficient solution.
- Realize that real justice is impossible when costs consume the stakes.
- Value truth, relationships and reputation over winning at all costs.
If I don´t use an attorney, how will I have confidence that the other side will produce all relevant evidence?
Because the neutral experts drive the investigation of facts and law — informed by whatever additional information you and others provide or ask about — it’s highly likely that the right questions and the most relevant evidence will be considered. While no one, including the court system, can guarantee that someone won’t lie or try to hide important evidence, the chances of successfully doing so today are low, and the consequences of being caught are comparable to the issue sanction remedies available to address cheating in the court system. In addition, the parties have an opportunity to give feedback once the neutral arbiter issues a tentative decision.
If I use Just Resolve, will I get as good a net result as I would have gotten had I used a litigation attorney either in court or traditional arbitration?
Almost certainly. First, the outcome of common disputes tends to turn on what happened, on the applicable law, and on various uncontrollable factors. Because of this reality, it is a well-kept secret that competent dueling counsel tend to cancel each other out, even if their skills are not equal. Nevertheless, an underpinning of our court system is that having skilled attorneys advocate opposing points of view maximizes the chances of achieving overall justice. This assumption breaks down, however, in disputes where per-party legal and hidden costs are likely to approach or exceed the financial stakes. In such disputes, even superior attorney skills have little chance of offsetting (i.e. justifying) their legal fees and related costs. Consequently, win or lose, each side is likely to earn a better net outcome than if they had litigated.
Moreover, by relying on highly reputable, subject-experienced judges and other experts, Just Resolve brings to each case at least the same quality of professional inputs as the court system. The combination of their skills, experience, intellectual ability and high integrity assures a similarly informed, well-reasoned, focused and fair investigation and analysis. Our stepped process — including a full feedback loop before a tentative decision becomes final — also reduces the risk of major oversight or error. Finally, having only one team focused on truth, instead of separate teams committed to advantage for their respective sides, enables an economically rational process and result that takes into account limited financial stakes and assures a level playing field for all. If the parties want the added assurance of an appeal process, we offer that too.
What if I am reluctant to do anything “legal” without my attorney?
Just Resolve does not prohibit anyone from consulting their general counsel or other attorney or advisor in connection with a Resolve case. In fact, a party can, if it wants, designate a litigation attorney as its dispute liaison and “voice.” However, because Just Resolve’s neutrals drive the investigation and have no obligation to accept briefs or adopt suggestions from attorneys, the potential influences of advocacy and maneuver are greatly diminished. In short, we at Just Resolve know and expect that when a dispute arises, most people will consult a trusted advisor of some kind, and our process enables those advisors to play their roles more cost-effectively in your best overall interests.
How does Just Resolve guarantee the neutrality and integrity of its process?
We do this in four ways:
- Both parties examine the qualifications and background of highly reputable candidate neutrals and then participate equally in their final selection.
- We perform a “conflicts check” on candidate neutrals that adheres to the strict standards of the judicial system.
- Strict rules govern both parties’ use of advocates and advocacy, leveling the playing field for parties who choose not to hire an advocate.
- Our neutrals are empowered to hold false disclosures, missing data or lack of cooperation against the offending party just as a court would.