ADR Process - Discovery Referees

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Discovery Referees


Sometimes known as a Special Master, a discovery referee oversees the fact-finding process of litigation.

Although the court typically plays this role, the complexity and needs of some cases demand a private party to oversee the discovery process. Discovery is often the most timely and costly portion of litigation. The delays and inefficiencies of having the court supervise this process can be avoided by the appointment of a discovery referee. For cases with exceptional circumstances, the discovery referee may be mandated by court order, but in others, the parties can agree to voluntarily appoint a neutral for the purpose. Since the court has limited time and resources devoted to supervising discovery, the appointment of a discovery referee boasts numerous advantages over leaving the process to the courts:

  • Time Efficiency—It takes time to navigate court rules and calendars to schedule discovery hearings. Having a personalized discovery referee dedicated to your dispute minimizes these delays, ensuring that both attorney and client’s time is not wasted.

  • Cost Effectiveness—The discovery referee can be reached without going through a formal proceeding, and they can be reached via any medium, be it e-mail, telephone, or even Skype. The benefits of this availability go beyond saving court fees and travel costs.

  • Consistency—The discovery referee will become familiar with your case and the rules you’ve agreed on to govern discovery, and they will be available to see the process to its completion, ensuring predictability and continuity for the process.

  • Availability—The parties can contact the discovery referee at almost any time to resolve issues that arrive during the discovery process. The discovery referee is even available to rule on objections during a deposition if necessary.

  • Flexibility—Partly due to degree of informality afforded by having a discovery referee supervise the process, the referee can structure discovery to suit the parties’ goals.

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