Mandatory Settlement Conferences
Settlement conferences are mandatory in Arizona civil cases involving disputes of more than $50,000. Settlement conferences are required in an attempt to alleviate the Arizona Superior Courts from managing all the cases by themselves. The rule for mandatory settlement conferences is done in part to help the parties settle without a trial.
Rule 16.1 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure that makes settlement conferences mandatory in any cases where the amount in dispute is more than $50,000. If the amount in dispute is less than $50,000 then an Arbitration Hearing is held–in lieu of the Settlement Conference.
Rule 16.1(c) requires that,
“every party and its counsel must attend a settlement conference…Additionally, each party must have a representative present who has actual authority to enter into a binding settlement agreement.”Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure 16.1
settlement conference memo
In preparation of the Settlement Conference a memorandum must be prepared and delivered to the settlement mediator and the opposing party.
The Settlement Conference Memo must contain; a) general description of the claims, defenses, and issues in the action, and each party’s position on each claim, defense, and issue. b) a general description of the evidence the party anticipates presenting at trial. c) a summary of any settlement negotiations that have already occurred. d) each party’s assessment of the likely outcome if the action proceeds to trial, and e) any other information that might be helpful in settling the action.
Retired judges often serve as the mediator for the settlement conference. During the day of the conference the parties typically are located in separate rooms and never speak directly to each other.
settlement conference outcomes
It is important to note that the mediator will not making any decision or ruling. The mediator does not have the authority to make a binding ruling. Plus the mediator cannot force either party into accepting or rejecting a settlement offer made by the opposing party. They are simply there to help each understand the other person’s point of view and to see if there is any middle ground upon which all can agree.
Furthermore, the mediator will remind the parties of the huge costs, risk, time, energy and stress that are required to forward a case to trial.
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If you need help from an experienced lawyer, then contact the Dunaway Law Group by messaging us HERE or calling us at 480-389-6529.
* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.