Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is an informal conference held early in the case in which the lawyer or the party presents abbreviated written and oral summaries of the case to a neutral evaluator. The evaluator offers a non-binding, oral opinion of each party's case and a candid assessment of the possible outcome of the case if it proceeds to trial. The evaluator may also help the parties discuss settlement, it they wish, and provide guidance regarding any additional discovery if the case is settled. ENE may be particularly effective if one of the parties has unrealistic expectations regarding the outcome of the lawsuit.
At the beginning of the conference the evaluator must define and describe the process of ENE to the parties, the differences between ENE and other forms of dispute resolution, the duties and responsibilities of the evaluator and of the parties and other persons attending the conference, and the fact that any settlement reached will be only by mutual consent of the parties.
At the conclusion of the ENE conference, the evaluator will issue an oral report to the parties, advising them of his or her opinions of the case. Such opinion shall include a candid assessment of liability, estimated settlement value, and the strengths and weaknesses of each party's claims if the case proceeds to trial. The oral report shall also contain a suggested settlement or disposition of the case and the reasons therefore.
Frequently Asked Questions about Early Neutral Evaluation