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West Palm Beach Business & Personal Injury Attorney
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Is a Private Trial Right for You?


There is a seemingly never ending desire to try to work out conflict, without the cost, time and expense, of going to trial. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has filled this void to some extent, with contracts that routinely require mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes.

But there is another, much lesser known and less often used type of ADR, and one that can bridge the gap between the good and bad of traditional ADR methods: The private trial.

Differences From Mediation

Unlike mediation, a private trial is actually a real trial, with evidence, witnesses and arguments. However, unlike mediation, a private trial ends with a real verdict; it is not something the parties can opt to settle or not settle, the way that they can with a mediation. You go to the private trial and you win or lose, just like you would in a real trial.

Differences From Arbitration

This sounds a lot like arbitration, where you put on evidence and an arbitrator makes a decision that the parties are bound to. But unlike arbitration, a private trial is a real trial, with a real judge—not a professional arbitrator. Also unlike arbitration, the real civil rules of procedure apply-not the arbitration rules, which often are more restrictive and provide less discovery of evidence for all parties.

The Judge and the Trial

The judge can be a retired judge, or one from another district. It doesn’t even have to be a judge—but it does have to be a legal professional licensed with the bar, unlike arbitration, where the arbitrator can be a professional from any number of professionals.

After the private trial. You will get a real enforceable judgment. And while the judgment from a private trial is binding, you do have broader rights to appeal than you normally do after an arbitration, where almost nothing can be appealed after an adverse decision.

Yes, you will pay for the judge’s services, which you would not ordinarily do in a “real” trial. But there is a benefit—because you are paying, your case will be expedited, and thus, could overall be cheaper than a real trial. Hearings and disputes that normally arise during the course of a case, don’t wait 3 weeks for a hearing in front of the judge, they get heard much faster.

Privacy Benefits

There’s another benefit to the private trial as well—the actual privacy. Unlike in a real trial, where things are public record and filed in the clerk’s office, everything that happens in a private trial is private. So, for cases where public disclosure is an issue—for example, trade secret cases, partnership disputes, or some family law type cases—private trials can keep sensitive information out of the public eye.

Is a private trial right for you? It could be. Call our West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help and advice.




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