Delaware Courts are in Phase Two of the reopening plan as of June 15, 2020, allowing the public to return to court facilities. Learn more about the public reopening plan.

For the latest on the Delaware Judiciary response to COVID-19 – and for contact information for each court during this emergency – please visit The Delaware Judiciary Response to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page.

Civil Court Pre-trial Conference Process

The Justice of the Peace Court is introducing a new mediation program to resolve civil cases before they go to trial. As part of this program, cases filed before July 1, 2020 will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference.

What is a Pre-Trial Conference?

Pre-trial conferences are:

    Between the judge and the parties in the case
    A mandatory court proceeding and electronically recorded.

Pre-trial conferences are done by Zoom

    A mailed notice tells you when it is scheduled
    You will get instructions for using Zoom

The judge and parties determine if the case can be settled without a trial

   Financial and other assistance from social service and state agencies are discussed
   The judge prepares an agreement if a settlement is reached

If there is no settlement, the judge and parties decide if the case goes to mediation

    Mediation for pre-July 1 cases is not mandatory unless
           The judge believes mediation can be successful but the parties refuse in bad faith
           If so, the judge can order the parties to mediation

If there is no mediation

   The judge narrows the legal and/or factual issues of the case
   The Court sets a trial date

If all parties agree to mediation, the Court schedules it and notifies you.

What is Mediation?

Mediation provides a neutral forum where parties attempt to reach a settlement of their court matter without going to trial.

   Parties work with a trained mediator to resolve the dispute
   The process is confidential but the final agreement becomes public record and is legally enforceable
   Consequences for violating the agreement are included as part of the final agreement

Mediation is conducted by Zoom

   Assigned mediators meet virtually with all parties at the same time. Options are:
         The mediator holds discussions with all parties
         Parties meet separately with the mediator
         Parties meet alone
   Financial and other assistance from state and social service agencies are reviewed
   All discussions are confidential

If an agreement is reached

   The mediator reads the agreement to all parties and records it electronically
   The mediator writes the agreement and sends to the Court for approval

The case goes to trial if the parties can't come to a settlement

Who Are Mediators?

Mediators are:

   Specially trained Justice of the Peace Court Magistrates
          Note: Judge mediators are not involved in a case if it moves forward to court
   Members of the Delaware Bar Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) section

Why Use Mediation?

Mediation uses video technology to:

   Reduce the need for litigants to come to court
   Resolve cases faster

Remember—There is no trial if mediation is successful