ADA
adr Referees and Special Masters

This page tells you about:

  1. What do Referees do?
  2. Who chooses the Referee?
  3. How do we choose a Referee?
  4. What is a Special Master?
  5. Who pays for the Referee or Special Master?
  6. What are the qualifications of Referees and Special Masters?
  1. What do Referees do?

    In complex cases, parties can agree to have a Referee help them move their case along. Referees can help the parties exchange papers, and help settle some of the issues so the trial can be shorter. Referees often decide on discovery disputes. Usually, the Referee will recommend a solution to the Court. The Judge can accept the recommendation and make it final. Sometimes, parties ask the Referee to settle the whole case. Parties can give the Referee as much authority as they want. This can make the process go faster. If they want, parties can agree (stipulate) to make a Referee’s decision "binding" (final).
     
  2. Who chooses the Referee?

    The parties can choose their own referee. Or sometimes, the court appoints a referee. If the court appoints a Referee, the parties have 15 days to object in writing if they are not happy with that Referee.

  3. How do we choose a Referee?

    Choosing a Referee is just like choosing a mediator. Parties must find someone everyone can agree to use. The ADR Administrator has a list of mediators, neutral evaluators, and private arbitrators who can help you with your case. See the Civil Division's ADR Providers page. Some of those providers may be willing to act as Referees or Special Masters as well. On the ADR Provider Search page, check the Special Master checkbox (under ADR Process) when you do a search.

    You can also find a Referee or Special Master:

    • on the Internet
    • in the phone book under "Referee” or “Special Master”
  4. What is a Special Master?

    In Federal Court, a Referee is called a "Special Master.” Referees and Special Masters help parties handle the exchange of papers and can help settle some or all of the issues in the case.”

  5. Who pays for the Referee or Special Master?

    The parties pay the Referee or Special Master. The parties decide on how to divide the fee.
     
  6. What are the qualifications of Referees and Special Masters?

    Choose someone who knows about the area of law that is involved in your case. Choose someone with good personal skills and who is a good negotiator. It also helps to choose someone with experience in handling court cases. Choose someone you think will be fair to all parties, who can listen, and who can sort out the different facts and understand the legal questions.

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