Since spring, courts throughout the nation have had to reduce their caseloads drastically. Texas courts are no exception. Many civil trials suffered cancellations. Only the most pressing of cases moved forward with litigation, leaving thousands of others floating in limbo. As a result, many individuals and entities involved in business disputes have had to explore other options to resolve their legal matters.
Redoubled efforts at ADR
When it comes to disputes, most parties try to find resolutions through alternative dispute resolution whenever possible, as litigation is almost always more time-consuming and expensive. A case that advances to trial indicates that the parties have already attempted mediation, arbitration or private negotiations without reaching a satisfactory outcome. It is a testament to how clogged the court system has become under current conditions that so many parties have re-devoted their energy toward ADR.
New methods for mediation and arbitration
With in-person meetings discouraged, counsel and clients have had to develop creative methods for ADR. Conference phone calls serve the purpose well, though the inability to distinguish other speakers’ facial expressions and body language can remove much-needed nuance. Remote technology such as Skype, Teams and Zoom allow several people online to speak face-to-face, so to speak. The would-be litigants and their counsel have the option to be in the same room, or they can choose to dial in from their own offices or homes.
When second attempts do not work
Even if the parties in a dispute make every effort to resolve the matter through ADR a second time, it is simply not always possible to resolve every problem this way. Some cases will inevitably go to trial. As long as the courts remain semi-closed, litigation will proceed at an even slower pace than it usually does. At the end of the tunnel, though, is the light of a judicial ruling to resolve complex commercial disputes.