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Mini-Trials - An Alternative to Litigation

NCJ Number
Negotiation Journal Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: (January 1985) Pages: 13-17
J E Henry
Date Published
5 pages
The success of the minitrial in a wide variety of cases is chronicled, and the structure and benefits of this form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are outlined.
Attention is focused on a recent multimillion dollar contract case between Wisconsin Electric Power Company and American Can Company, a dispute over a major construction problem at Control Data, and on other cases successfully resolved by means of a minitrial. A breach of contract claim between Texaco and Borden illustrates the problemsolving process employed in the minitrial and the process' potential to resolve the most complex, expensive lawsuits in an expedient, mutually beneficial manner. The minitrial is shown to entail a minimum investment in time and money and to often produce unexpected high returns and benefits, including enormous reductions in the costs and length of the litigation. The flexible structure of the minitrial is described, and the problemsolving methods used in minitrials are revealed to be successful in achieving practical solutions rarely gained through the adversarial process of litigation. The endorsement of the ADR pledge by 40 major companies is highlighted: the pledge is part of a Center for Public Resources Project that has signatory companies explore ADR procedures to resolve a dispute with another company that has also signed the pledge. Finally, evidence of some resistance to the use of the minitrial is reported, but the resistance is determined to be based on false preconceptions about how the minitrial works.


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