Neutral Evaluation, also known as, Early Neutral Evaluation is an advisory and evaluative form of alternative dispute resolution. Neutral evaluation is a process wherein a neutral third party hears the presentations of the disputants, and then provides his opinion regarding the dispute. The neutral third party evaluates the facts, circumstances and issues of the case, and then renders an insight about the same.
The process of neutral evaluation is very flexible. The parties are also permitted to decide upon the steps that are to be followed in the procedure. In general, procedure of early neutral evaluation involves the following steps:
- Appointment of evaluator- The first and foremost requisite is the appointment of an evaluator. The parties must ensure that the evaluator appointed has special knowledge and expertise in the subject- matter of the suit. This makes the process of evaluation more effective and reliable. Other criterias that should be adhered to while appointing a neutral evaluator is fairness, impartiality, and a skill of evaluating facts and circumstances. There is no specified number of evaluators that have to be appointed. It is upon the parties’ discretion to appoint one or more than one evaluator.
- Preparation of neutral evaluation- Before the proceedings of neutral evaluation commence, the parties are required to submit a written statement stating the facts and issues from their point of view. This enables the evaluator to understand the perspective of both the parties. Simultaneously, the parties decide the day, date and venue at which the proceedings shall commence.
- Evaluator’s opening statement- The parties’ and the evaluator meet on the decided date and venue. The proceedings commence with the evaluator’s opening statement. He describes his role as a neutral third party, he also states the rules and the various stages of the proceedings.
- Parties’ presentations- The next step is the oral presentation of the parties. The disputants make a presentation of the case from their point of view, the issues that are important pertaining to the case, and the outcome they are seeking from the proceedings. This step is very important because it makes the parties’ aware about the perspective of the other party. It also clears any sort of misunderstanding between the disputants. It also helps the evaluator in identifying the primary and secondary issues of the dispute.
- Evaluator’s opinion- The final step of the proceedings is the opinion of the evaluator. The neutral third party will provide his opinion on every issue of the dispute, and then suggest possible points on which parties’ may negotiate and compromise. The evaluator also mentions the possible outcomes of litigation if the parties decide to move to court. It should be kept in mind that the opinion and the evaluation of the neutral third party is not binding on the disputants.
There are two possible outcomes of this proceedings. If the dispute is resolved, the parties enter into a written agreement. If the dispute is not resolved, the parties may approach the court upon their discretion.