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Superior Court of California - County of San Diego: Civil: Alternative Dispute Resolution: Alternative Dispute Resolution FAQ: Settlement Conferences FAQ
   

Settlement Conference Frequently Asked Questions


    1. What is a settlement conference?
    2. How do I request a voluntary settlement conference?
    3. Who will conduct the settlement conference?
    4. How much does a settlement conference cost?
    5. Who must attend the settlement conference?
    6. How do I prepare for the settlement conference?
    7. Are settlement conference briefs required?


1. What is a settlement conference?

In a settlement conference, a judge or volunteer attorney assists the parties by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the case and attempting to negotiate a settlement of the dispute, but without making any decisions or orders in the case. Settlement conferences may be either mandatory (court-ordered) or voluntary. Mandatory settlement conferences are often held close to the date a case is set for trial. Please refer to the court's Local Rules for more information.

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2. How do I request a voluntary settlement conference?

Settlement conferences may be requested if the parties certify that: (1) settlement negotiations between the parties have been pursued, demands and offers have been tendered in good faith, and resolution has failed; (2) a judicially supervised settlement conference presents a substantial opportunity for settlement; and (3) the case has developed to a point where all parties are legally and factually prepared to present the issues for settlement consideration and further discovery for settlement purposes is not required. Refer to Local Rule 2.2.1 for more information.

To schedule a settlement conference, contact the scheduling clerk or the department to which your case is assigned.

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3. Who will conduct the settlement conference?

A judge may conduct the settlement conference, or, as in the North County Division, volunteer settlement attorneys may also conduct settlement conferences. The judge who would preside at trial does not conduct the settlement conference unless the parties stipulate in writing and the judge agrees. Parties may request a specific judge and the court will attempt to accommodate their request.

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4. How much does a settlement conference cost?

The settlement conference itself is conducted at no charge to the parties. However, attorneys may charge clients for their time in preparing for and attending the settlement conference.

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5. Who must attend the settlement conference?

All parties must be personally present at the settlement conference. Claims adjusters for insured defendants or right-of-way agents in condemnation proceedings must be present with complete authority to settle the case. Everyone attending a settlement conference is required to participate in good faith and be prepared to settle the case. Refer to Local Rule 2.2.2 for more information.

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6. How do I prepare for the settlement conference?

A good faith settlement demand and offer must be exchanged in advance of the settlement conference. Counsel appearing on behalf of their clients must be completely familiar with the case and possess complete authority to negotiate and settle. Counsel must have authority to make a specific demand and must be authorized to make an offer or counteroffer in a specific amount.

If a participant is not fully prepared or fails to participate in good faith, the court may continue the hearing and/or impose sanctions against the offending party. If the hearing proceeds as scheduled, the orders made will not be subject to reconsideration due to counsel's unfamiliarity with the case at the time of the hearing. Refer to Local Rule 2.2.2 for more information.

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7. Are settlement conference briefs required?

Yes. Written statements of the position of each party must be submitted to the settlement conference judge and served on other parties five court days prior to the settlement conference, unless otherwise ordered. Refer to Local Rule 2.2.3 for more information.

If the settlement conference is to be heard by a volunteer settlement attorney, the settlement conference brief must be submitted to the court, not the attorney. Refer to Local Rule 2.2.2 for more information.

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