Early Neutral Evaluation

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a private and non-binding technique whereby a third party, in some cases a retired judge or other senior, experienced and legally qualified person, provides an opinion on the likely outcome at trial.  With its speed, non-binding nature and use as a springboard to settlement, ENE either on its own or following an impasse in negotiation or family mediation is becoming a popular tool.

ENE evaluates chances of success in the legal process, forces Clients to consider their BATNA and WATNA (best/worst alternative to a negotiated agreement) and encourages resolution away from the straitjacket of the formal legal arena.

Litigation is not only expensive financially and emotionally but is conducive to entrenched positions which do not lend themselves to the search for solutions.  To some extent ENE enables clients to rehearse the arguments they would use within the litigation process and to test their effectiveness with both each other and before an independent person qualified to give an informed and expert view as to the likely court decision.

ENE has the following advantages-

  • Each Client is provided with a view of their likelihood of success in court
  • Each Client is able to assess their respective positions and decide whether it is more cost/benefits efficient to litigate
  • Clients have the opportunity to evaluate whether a mediation or continuing mediation could be workable
  • Disputes can be assessed on paper rather than an attendance
  • A paper ‘hearing’ could be helpful in those cases where clients find it difficult to face each other and prefer not to be in the same room together.
  • ENE is akin to an informal Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment in matrimonial financial cases.

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