While the District Court of the Virgin Islands exists to serve our community in providing an accessible forum for the economical, timely and fair resolution of disputes, we recognize that the formal litigation process may not be suitable for all civil controversies that may find their way to the Court. Accordingly, the Court encourages and promotes the use of alternative dispute resolution (”ADR”) programs that aid the parties in controlling their own destinies and achieving certainty of result. Such mechanisms often result in cost and time-saving for the parties, as well as providing to them a sense of satisfaction in being able to be flexible and shape the ultimate relief. Considerations of confidentiality and privacy may also be advanced in an ADR setting.
Alternative dispute resolution devices that may be employed include:
- Mediation, where an impartial neutral assists the parties in negotiating a mutually-acceptable solution (see Local Rule of Civil Procedure 3.2)
- Arbitration, where an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators reaches a binding determination of the controversy, subject to court review, based on the presentation of evidence and arguments
- Early neutral evaluation, where a limited presentation made to a neutral with subject- matter expertise results in a non-binding evaluation of the case
- A limited discovery program aimed at gathering sufficient information for the parties to engage in meaningful settlement discussions without the expense attendant to full-blown discovery
- “Mini” trials of selected issues
The scope and variety of ADR mechanisms is limited only by the imagination and creativity of the parties.
Although parties are at liberty to pursue ADR through private providers, the Court is available to assist litigants with ADR at no cost. The Court will schedule mediation or other process with Magistrate Judges and Senior District Court Judges at the request of the parties, or may order settlement conferences in appropriate cases. Litigants are encouraged to explore their ADR options with opposing parties and the Court both outside of and during court conferences.