New Options for Settling Legal Disputes      


Settling Legal Disputes

If you’ve been involved in professional practice long enough, chances are you’ve had the need to work through legal disputes with clients or other business professionals. In an effort to reduce the volume of cases before the Court, the Franklin County Small Claims and Municipal Courts have unveiled several new options for settling legal disputes before they become time-consuming and expensive. Ohio’s limited jurisdiction courts include the Small Claims Court and the Municipal Court. The Small Claims Court handles amounts in controversy up to $6,000.00. Because of the low jurisdictional limit, this court is traditionally known as the “People’s Court” with limited attorney practice and hands-on court personnel. The Municipal Court handles amounts in controversy up to $15,000.

These courts have introduced methods to help claimants settle legal disputes without the added expense and time associated with a formal legal proceeding. The first is in-person mediation through the Municipal Court – which is a free service. During the mediation, the parties meet with a neutral mediator to talk about solutions to the dispute. These mediators are trained to facilitate calm and productive discussions about claims. Types of disputes that may be appropriate for mediation include landlord-tenant disputes, property damage, and claims that money is owed. Although the neutral mediator will not decide who is right or wrong, they can aid the parties in reaching a resolution. The mediation process is confidential and, if successful, can result in a final resolution of a claim without additional time and expense of a formal court proceeding.

The Municipal Court also offers the option of online dispute resolution using your smartphone or computer. An advantage of online dispute resolution is you may be able to reach an agreement from your own home, without the need to take time off work and to travel downtown to meet with a mediator. The Municipal Court offers you an online portal where you can register, upload a file, and submit your claim. Like traditional mediation, online mediation is also free and confidential. Once an agreement is reached, the parties can sign the agreement electronically and submit it to the Municipal Court.

You can choose to participate in mediation before you file a lawsuit or after. The Municipal Court has created a to aid you in developing your settlement proposal and navigating through the mediation process. If you have a legal dispute, you may want to consider mediation first as an option to settle the dispute before filing a formal case in court. A resolution of legal disputes through mediation is permanent, speedy, and cost-effective.

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