Frequently Asked Questions
What is the online Small Claims Resolution Center?
Am I required to use this online Resolution Center?
What are the advantages in using this online Resolution Center?
If I use this Resolution Center, do I still have to go to Court for Pre-Trial Conference?
Is there a charge for the Resolution Center?
How do I negotiate a settlement using this online Small Claims Resolution Center?
Do I need an attorney to negotiate a settlement using the Resolution Center?
Are negotiations in the Resolution Center confidential?
Is there anyone else who would assist me if I use this Resolution Center?
What is mediation?
What is the Role of a Mediator?
What are the qualifications of the mediators?
What are the advantages of mediation?
Is mediation required?
- What is Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)?
It is an online platform that is used by parties in a small claims lawsuit to negotiate a settlement by communicating directly with each other. To use ODR, parties and attorneys use their smartphone, computer, or tablet at any time prior to the Pretrial Conference, including evenings and weekends. By using this platform, you may be able to settle your case and file the agreement with the Court. If that is done, you would not be required to attend the Pretrial Conference at the courthouse.
- Why is the Court using ODR?
The Florida Supreme Court established goals to promote the use of innovation and alternative dispute resolution processes. It also is modernizing court processes through automation and expanded self-service options for court users. ODR is also consistent with the judicial branch’s vision that justice will be accessible, fair, effective, responsive, and accountable.
- Am I required to use ODR?
Effective with filings on or after May 15, 2020, parties of most Brevard County small claims cases are required to use ODR in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. These are cases in which the plaintiff is represented by counsel and the defendant is not represented by counsel. PIP actions or lawsuits involving an insurance carrier are excluded from this requirement. Each party may opt out of ODR by filing a motion with the Court for the Judge’s approval. (Reference Brevard County Administrative Order 20-26B below)
- What are the advantages in using ODR?
Using ODR allows parties the opportunity to settle their case at their convenience, using their smartphone, computer, or tablet. They can work online to negotiate from any location and at any time, including evenings and weekends. If an agreement is reached using ODR, and it is filed with the court as required, neither party will have to appear in court on the Pretrial Conference date.
- If I use ODR, do I still have to go to court for the Pretrial Conference?
If you reach an agreement via ODR, and the agreement is promptly E-filed by the plaintiff, you do not have to appear for the Pretrial Conference. If no agreement is reached, you must appear at your Pretrial Conference.
- Is there a charge for ODR?
- How do I negotiate a settlement using ODR?
The plaintiff (the person who filed the lawsuit) and the defendant (the person being sued) would sign onto the ODR platform and submit an offer to settle the case. They do not have to be on the platform at the same time. Negotiation is a process for parties to find common ground to reach a settlement that satisfies both of them. After each party signs in, they should follow the instructions on the screen which guides them through the process. There will also be a link to request a mediator by either party.
- What do I need to participate in ODR?
To use ODR, parties only need an email account and must complete and file a Non-Attorney Designation of Email Address form. Within 10 days of service of the summons, that form must be filed with the Clerk of Court. The form may be found at http://www.brevardclerk.us/index.cfm/small-claims-forms and may be filed using the application at https://www.myflcourtaccess.com.
- What is the role of an attorney in ODR?
If a party is represented by an attorney, that attorney would negotiate on behalf of his/her client. Parties do not need an attorney to use ODR. However, parties have a right to retain independent counsel.
- Are negotiations in ODR confidential?
- Is there anyone else who would assist me when I use ODR?
A mediator is available to assist both parties as a facilitator of the negotiation. A mediator can aid in the communication between the parties but does not give legal advice or represent either party.
12. What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal, non-adversarial process in which a neutral, third party (mediator) facilitates and encourages the resolution of a dispute. Parties have an opportunity to actively participate in the decision-making process. If they reach a settlement, they can avoid the expense and uncertainty of a trial in which a judge decides the result.
- What is the Role of a Mediator?
The mediator guides the communication process between the parties. Conflicts are discussed and various solutions are explored in an effort to reach a satisfactory agreement. The mediator may offer suggestions and help parties develop options to resolve the issues, but the final decisions are made by the parties.
- Is there a charge for mediation?
- What are the qualifications of the mediators?
Our mediators are Florida Supreme Court Certified mediators. They have achieved this certification by attending a mediation course and mentoring with other certified mediators. They are required to have continuing mediation education every two years to maintain their certification. Many mediators have multiple certifications and a broad range of business experience, consistent with the types of cases they mediate.
- What are the advantages of mediation?
The mediation process is voluntary, and typically encourages better communication between the parties. Mediation is confidential. Parties actively participate in the decisions that will affect them. Mediation can often save the time, money, and stress that is usually associated with a trial. Parties determine the outcome of the case, and they can avoid the uncertainty of a trial.
- Is mediation required?
No, mediation is optional in the ODR platform. Parties may choose not to participate in mediation while in the ODR platform. However, at Pretrial Conference, the Judge may require mediation.
Questions concerning ODR should be directed to: BrevardODR@flcourts18.org.