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Delaware State Courts
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SUPERIOR COURT
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Guidelines for Superior Court Arbitration
  Arbitration Forms (Forms are sample format; not required Court forms.)
  Arbitration Process
  The Arbitrator
  Evidence
  Arbitration Hearing
The ADR provides parties with multiple options to litigation pursuant to Superior Court Civil Rule 16. Neutral assessment is a process through which the parties may obtain an expert and neutral evaluation of the merits of their respective cases at the very initial stage of a dispute. The assessment intends to restore or facilitate communication between the parties on the basis of an independent analysis and recommendations obtained through a highly specialized neutral analysis of each particular dispute submitted to this process.
 
Arbitration Process
 
Compulsory Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) allows the format of ADR to be agreed upon by the parties. If the parties cannot agree on the ADR format, the default format shall be mediation unless otherwise ordered by the Court. Arbitration may be mandatory or by agreement. At initial filing, you may select Arbitration on the Civil Case Information Statement (CIS). The decision is binding on the parties only if stipulated to in writing. In arbitration, the impartial arbitrator reviews evidence, hears arguments, and makes a fair decision (award) based on law to resolve the dispute. It is not a replication of a Superior Court trial. Every party has trial de novo appeal rights if they are not satisfied with the arbitrator's decision.
 
An approved Arbitrator may be selected by agreement of the parties with a stipulation. The Court will select the arbitrator from an approved list if there is no stipulation. For personal injury cases, arbitrator's should be selected from the approved Arbitrator Personal Injury Directory.
 
As soon as the arbitrator is selected, she/he will contact the attorneys (by teleconferences, whenever possible) to schedule the hearing at a mutually convenient time. Hearings may be held in the evenings or on weekends. No ex parte communications are permitted. If the arbitrator cannot schedule the hearing during this time period, the arbitrator must immediately inform the Court of the scheduling problem.
 
The arbitrator, at her/his discretion, may schedule an informal preliminary conference with the parties.
 
If it is necessary to have a witness(es) testify, in addition to the parties, the arbitrator will obtain a witness list as quickly as possible so that she/he may run a conflict of interest check on all names supplied by the parties.
 

The hearing should be held in the arbitrator's office or at some other location acceptable to all parties.

 
If necessary, the arbitrator will schedule a separate teleconference to resolve any pre-hearing issues. A written order to decide motions is not necessary, a verbal decision will suffice.
 
Each party and counsel, unless excused by the arbitrator, will appear and participate in the arbitration hearing. A party who without being excused, fails to appear at an arbitration hearing will not be entitled to demand a trial de novo, except upon payment of the total arbitrator's fee and all court costs incurred to date. Failure to appear and participate by any person whose attendance is required will subject the offender to sanction under Superior Court Civil Rule 37(d).
 
If the case settles before a hearing, the arbitrator may arrange a teleconference with both parties to confirm the settlement, if the parties have not done so in writing. The arbitrator should notify the Court within five (5) days of settlement.
 
The Arbitrator
 
The arbitrator will either be appointed by the Court or agreed upon by the parties. For personal injury cases, arbitrator's should be selected from the approved Arbitrator Personal Injury Directory.
 
The parties to the arbitration pay the arbitrator directly.
 
Evidence
 
The Delaware Rules of Evidence will be used as a guide for admissibility of evidence.
 
Documentary evidence will be relied upon. Medical reports, police reports and written statements are preferred over the testimony of witnesses.
 
Arbitration Hearing
 
Unless waived by all parties, testimony will be under oath or affirmation, administered by a notary public. Attorneys in Delaware may perform notarial acts.
 
The arbitrator will reserve any questions for witnesses until the attorneys have completed their questions.
 
The arbitrator will review the pleadings and exhibits before making a decision.
 
The arbitrator must issue an original Arbitrator's Order to the Court with copies to all parties within five (5) days of the hearing.
 
The arbitrator must complete and return the Court's copy of the Arbitrator's Order to the Prothonotary.