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The differences between mediation and early neutral evaluation

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Business

Mediation and early neutral evaluation are two alternative dispute resolution methods that help individuals and organizations solve problems outside of court.

These processes share the common goal of facilitating dispute resolution. However, they differ significantly in their methods, focus and outcomes.

Defining mediation and ENE

Mediation is a voluntary dispute resolution process. A neutral third person called a mediator helps the involved parties reach a settlement that all find acceptable. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties. They facilitate communication and help everyone understand each other’s views in order to find potential solutions.

In early neutral evaluation, a neutral person reviews both parties’ circumstances and claims, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each side. They give an unbiased opinion on the case’s merits and possible outcomes. ENE aims to help parties understand their positions accurately. The evaluator’s feedback may alter expectations or inform future litigation decisions.

Exploring the differences

Mediation aims to help parties find a mutually agreeable solution. It does this through discussion of the parties’ interests and needs. ENE provides an early, fair assessment of each party’s case. It focuses on legal arguments and evidence.

Both processes are generally confidential, but the priorities differ. In mediation, confidentiality protects the negotiation process and any settlement terms. ENE confidentiality typically covers the evaluator’s assessment to encourage candor during the evaluation.

The outcome of mediation is often a settlement agreement created and agreed upon by the parties. The result of ENE is an evaluation that may lead to settlement negotiations or other legal outcomes. At Kerrick Bachert, attorney Thomas N. Kerrick offers dispute resolution sessions, including mediation, and belongs to the Kentucky Chapter of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals.

Mediation and ENE address disputes outside of court but have different purposes. Understanding the distinctions can help parties make informed decisions when resolving conflicts.