Mediation now required in New Jersey Bankruptcy Court- but you have more choices than first appears

Anyone who has experienced the rigors and the expense of litigation knows its costs both personal and financial. Any attorney who does a fair amount of litigation knows that ultimately, most cases settle. Unfortunately, this often happens after the parties have bloodied each other.

Mediation is a process where a neutral third party meets with the parties and their attorneys to explore settlement. The Mediator cannot impose a settlement. A good one can, however, help the parties get past the posturing to what really is at issue and to help them find better alternatives that litigating. Done well, the process can be quite valuable. Even where a settlement is not reached during the mediation, in my experience, the process gets the parties talking and thinking about settlement as an alternative. Both as a mediator and as a litigant, I have found many times that the mediation produced a settlement after the mediation was over.

The New Jersey Bankruptcy Court has just imposed a requirement that every “adversary proceeding” (a bankruptcy term for a lawsuit in the bankruptcy court) filed after May 1, 2014 must go to mediation, unless the parties can convince the court to opt out.

The court has selected a panel of mediators. All are good, and some are superb. But the selection of the right mediator is an important decision. The mediator must be someone who commands or will command the trust and respect of the parties and their attorneys.

In selecting a mediator for your case, do keep in mind that you are not limited to the mediators on the panel. The parties can designate and select anyone who is otherwise qualified. DNJ LBR 9019-2(b)(2).

Both Steven Neuner and Joanne Ventura are experienced mediators. Mr. Neuner has served for over 6 years on the New Jersey Superior Court mediation panel, and has served as a bankruptcy mediator in several cases. His background and experience as a trustee and a respected bankruptcy practitioner brings a unique perspective to bear. Joanne Ventura is a divorce mediator with years of experience and extensive training, as well as a familiarity with the bankruptcy process.

If you are facing a mediation in bankruptcy court, please feel free to consider selecting one of us to help.



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