Alternative Dispute Resolution
Welcome to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Page
Questions about the Solano Superior Court ADR Programs may be submitted by e-mail to: ADR@Solano.courts.ca.gov.
ADR Contact Telephone Numbers:
|HENCE Evaluations Program||707-207-7440|
Alternative Dispute Resoultion Panel
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Program will provide you with a current list of service providers with expertise relevant to the type of case you have filed. You may call the Civil Mediaiton Center to get a list by fax, or visit the Civil Mediation Center to pick up a current list.
You can get more information on each panel member on the most current list by clicking on the link below:
For a list of "No Fee" Mediators click here.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
The peaceful resolution of disputes in a fair, timely and cost-effective manner is an essential function of the judicial branch of government. In the case of many disputes, litigation that requires a trial is costly, time-consuming, and stressful for the parties involved. Many disputes can be resolved in a fair and equitable manner through less formal processes.
It is the policy of the court to encourage and facilitate alternatives to trial such as mediation and arbitration. It is obviously in the interests of the parties and the court to resolve disputes early in the process. Non-adversarial ADR can achieve a just and effective settlement that benefits everyone.
There are many creative methods of dispute resolution. The most commonly used processes are mediation, arbitration, and neutral evaluation. ADR is often successful because of its flexibility. It leaves control of the process and the outcome in the hands of the parties.
Mediation and arbitration can be a cost-effective and more satisfying method of resolving many disputes. Nearly all litigated cases are resolved by compromise and settlement - not trial. The court strongly encourages and facilitates early, cost-effective and fair approaches to settlement.
In arbitration, a neutral arbitrator reviews presentations from both sides and makes a decision. Such presentations could include documents related to the dispute and witness testimony provided during arbitration. The arbitrator's decision may or may not be binding. If the decision is binding, it generally is final and cannot be appealed or challenged. If the arbitrator's decision is non-binding, you could take your case to trial if you do not agree with the decision.
In mediation, a neutral mediator helps parties on both sides work out their differences through a confidential process. Both sides participate in discussions and negotiations aimed at finding a way to resolve the conflict. If no agreement is reached, the mediator has no power to decide the case and those involved may seek to resolve the dispute in other ways.
The Solano Superior Court's evaluation program is called "HENCE" or Helpful Early Neutral Case Evaluation. This neutral evaluation program starts early in the litigation process to identify and clarify the central issues of the dispute, access the merits of the case, assist with discovery planning, promote the informal exchange of information, and facilitate productive settlement discussions.
Follow these helpful links for more information about ADR
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution? (Judicial Council of California)
How can I resolve my dispute without trial? (English) (Spanish) (California Bar Association)
What is Arbitration/Mediation? (California Bar Association)
When to use ADR
Learn about the four ADR processes offered by the Court and how to prepare for them by watching these videos. Includes scenes demonstrating mediation, settlement conference, neutral evaluation, and arbitration.
The following instructional videos with local ADR information can be viewed by clicking on the following links:Back to Top
ADR FormsClick on the following links to download local forms:
|New Case ADR Packet||3900 ADR Evaluation Form|
|ADR Panelist Application Packet||3902 ADR Confidentiality Agreement|
Mediation Frequently Asked Questions
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Small Claims Mediation
As an alternative to the Small Claims Court, Solano County Courts, in conjunction with the Solano County Bar Association, offer "mediation services" free of charge to litigants in Small Claims Court. If you are considering filing a small claims lawsuit, consider calling the Dispute Resolution Service first at (707) 422-5087. They will advise you whether your conflict is amenable to mediation, and if you agree, will attempt to contact the other party and invite them to also participate in mediation.
For more information about the Solano Bar Association Dispute Resolution Services click here.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a means of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is an alternative to the sometimes expensive and time consuming process of a court trial. It is an informal way of resolving disputes.
Role of the Mediator
Mediators are trained, impartial third parties who volunteer their services because they believe in the power of mediation and collaborative negotiation as effective conflict resolution tools. They may or may not be attorneys. Mediators do not serve as judge or jury, do not seek to determine right and wrong or place blame. Mediators do not impose a decision on either party. Their only interest is in helping you resolve differences and reach a mutually agreeable solution.
Mediators do not give legal or professional advice. Rather, mediators facilitate communications by helping disputants describe their feelings, clarify issues, determine their true interests, identify underlying concerns, and where applicable, reach agreement.
The Mediation Process
The mediation process begins by welcoming and introducing all participants in the mediation session. Initially, each disputant will be given an uninterrupted opportunity to define the conflict/problem as they see it and express their feelings about it to the mediator(s). Each person will be given as much time as necessary to describe the conflict from their perspective. The mediator(s) may ask clarifying questions along the way.
Once the mediators(s) have a clear understanding of the problem, they will ask questions which help each person understand how the other disputant experiences the conflict. In this way, a great deal of important information comes to light which may not have been known or understood by the other party.
At this point in the process, the mediator(s) will help the parties understand that to solve a conflict, each must be willing to acknowledge any new understanding they have about the dispute and the other person's situation.
Sometimes, the mediator(s) may ask for a private meeting or "caucus" with one disputant at a time in order to get a clear idea of their goals and needs. The mediator(s) may also ask for a "mediators caucus" without the parties present.
In the final part of the mediation, potential resolutions are explored. If the parties reach a resolution, the mediator(s) may help them write an "agreement" which sets out the terms of their resolution. The parties can decide whether their agreement is legally binding or non-binding. The parties will be advised to consult with an attorney if they desire to have their agreement put into a legally binding form.
Mediations are confidential. For mediation to be successful, the parties must feel free to discuss the issues openly. In order to promote this communication and to facilitate settlement of the dispute, you will be asked to read and sign a confidentiality statement before the mediation session begins.
All participants in the mediation including the mediator(s) and any observers will be required to sign the confidentiality statement. By signing the confidentiality statement you are making the mediation confidential and preventing information given or discussed in the session from being used in any future legal case.
Length of the Mediation
Mediation sessions usually taken between 1.5 and 3 hours. Please allow adequate time for your mediation session. If necessary, a second mediation may be scheduled with the agreement of the disputants. Please bring your calendar so your availability for a subsequent session can be determined.
Are Attorneys Allowed in the Mediation Session
You may bring an attorney but they will generally not be allowed to participate directly in the mediation session. If you need a break in the mediation to speak to your attorney, that will be arranged. If you plan to bring an attorney, you must notify the Dispute Resolution Service before the mediation so that we may obtain the consent of the other party. In addition, the attorney must agree to honor the terms of mediation and sign a confidentiality statement.
If you decide to use the mediation services, your decision is a commitment that affects many people. Since the mediators volunteer their time to help you resolve your dispute, it is extremely important that you attend the mediation session scheduled for you and that you cancel only in the case of an emergency.
If you are interested in pursuing mediation, you may contact:
The Solano County Bar Association
Dispute Resolution Service
744 Empire Street, Suite 201
Fairfield, CA 94533
or the Small Claims Division for further information.
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