Online Dispute Resolution
ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PILOT PROGRAM
The Third Judicial Circuit is now offering online dispute resolution in small claims court as part of a pilot project. This means that small claims litigants can utilize 21st century technology to address a court case outside of normal business hours and may not even have to come to court.
While small claims cases involve smaller amounts of money, it is still a court case, in a courthouse, before a judge, and the court process can be time consuming and frustrating. Because of this, it is a good idea for you to think about other ways to resolve your dispute. Depending upon the nature of your case, you may choose to enroll in the Third Judicial Circuit’s Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Program.
The online dispute resolution program is voluntary and free, and you can login from any computer or your phone. After both parties to a case have created an account, the negotiations can begin from anywhere at any time. At this stage, it is just the two parties communicating. If a settlement is reached, it is forwarded to the judge for approval, and often, the case is closed without requiring a court appearance.
If the parties are unable to reach a settlement during this negotiation period, a Florida Supreme Court certified mediator can join the conversation. A mediator is a neutral person trained to help people settle their disputes, which allows the parties to decide how a case will be resolved, instead of having the judge decide. If an agreement is reached, it is forwarded to the judge for approval, and again, the case is often closed without requiring a court appearance.
If you are interested in trying the online dispute resolution program or have any questions, please contact the Third Circuit Mediation Unit at 386-719-1461 or login to Online Dispute Resolution at https://flcourts03sc.modria.com/.
If you elect not to try the on-line dispute resolution program or you do not reach a resolution, you MUST appear in court on the pretrial date you received with your summons.
It is an online platform that parties to a Small Claims lawsuit may use to negotiate a settlement. By using this platform, the parties can negotiate a settlement or with the help of a mediator develop an agreement. If a negotiated settlement or mediated agreement is reached and filed with the court, you are not required to attend the Pre-Trial Conference.
No, it is voluntary, and will only be utilized if both parties agree to use the online dispute resolution. If you elect not to use it, you may still be directed to mediation at the pre-trial conference.
Online Dispute Resolution allows you the opportunity to settle with the other party at your convenience, using your computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can work online to negotiate from any location and at any time, including evenings and weekends. If you reach an agreement using this option, and it is filed with the court as required, you will not have to appear in court on your Pre-Trial Conference date.
If you reach an agreement, either by negotiation or mediation, and the agreement is filed before the Pre-Trial date, you do not have to appear for the Pre-Trial Conference.
No, this is a pilot project and there is no fee for users.
Follow the instructions on the screens once you have signed in. There will be instructions to guide you through the process. There will also be a link for help if you need it.
No, you do not need an attorney to use Online Dispute Resolution. However, parties have a right to retain independent counsel.
The negotiations between the parties, before a mediator is assigned, may be disclosed to the Court by the parties. However, once the parties opt to have a mediator involved then the negotiations are confidential.
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.