What does it mean if a settlement conference has been scheduled?
Civil disagreements lead to the filing of lawsuits. Lawsuit cases may fall in such categories like:
1. personal injury
2. disability claims
3. paternity and custody contests
4. divorce hearings
Lawsuits can sometimes take very long to settle. Many plaintiffs especially suffer the misfortune of being ignored by defense parties. Some defense parties seem hell-bent to go to court battles. They never seem to prefer timely settlements before court hearings are summarized with arbitrary verdicts given. They view negotiation as weakness. Hence, if a settlement conference has been scheduled, it means that negotiation has been given a chance. Settlement conferences take the effort of both parties to organize and thus mutual collaboration. The whole concept of settlement conference was coined up in the judicial system to hasten up trials using negotiation and mediation consecutively. Thus, a possibility of reaching timely amicable conflict resolution with utmost goodwill.
In special circumstances, some criminal cases also get tried in settlement conferences. Such cases often involve the prosecution offering leniency to an accused person in exchange for collaboration in nailing other criminals with far more grievous crimes. So if you here that a settlement conference has been scheduled, cheer up, your legal counsel is trying to make matters better for your case.
How settlement conferences come about
Different counties have different rules and policies on how to run their judicial affairs. In some counties, particular judges never try a case without having a settlement conference done previously. They compel the both parties to engage in mediated negotiations before actual trial or between trials. Other counties or particular judges have no prerequisite requirements for lawsuits. Settlement conferences wholly collaborate efforts by attorneys to apply for these conferences. Some courts require the parties to pay for the judges time. Some parties apply successfully to have the fees waived. However, clients still have to pay for the time their lawyers spent in preparation and execution of these conferences. More fees are surcharged for the time the lawyers also use drafting documents to make official any agreements made if any.
The actual persons entangled in the conflict do not get to attend these conferences. They are represented by their legal counsels who have the authority to make settlement decisions for their clients. The reason for that is to avert bitter and subjective confrontations in the conference. When the defense comes up with a settlement proposal, the lawyer for the plaintiff has the authority to accept or decline the offer. However, the personal injury lawyer has to have had a prior knowledge of the offer and have consulted with the client previously. If not, the proposal has to be in line with the wishes of the client and is best if the lawyer consults the client before making that decision. Since the decision is made in the absence of the client, the client has the power to veto such an agreement. The veto comes in the form of the client not agreeing to sign the settlement documents drafted after the conference. In such a case, the case goes to court.