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South Carolina
Judicial Branch

Rule 15
Procedure at Early Neutral Evaluation Conference

(a)  Components of ENE Session. The evaluator shall to the extent deemed appropriate by the evaluator:

(1)  Permit each party (through counsel or otherwise), orally and through documents or other media, to present its claims or defenses and to describe the principal evidence on which they are based;

(2)  Assist the parties to identify areas of agreement and, where feasible, enter stipulations;

(3)  Assess the relative strength and weakness of the parties' contentions and evidence and provide detailed explanations to support these assessments;

(4)  In a circuit court case, estimate, where feasible, the likelihood of liability and the dollar range of damages;

(5)  In a family court case, evaluate the likely result of a trial of all issues.

(6)  Assist the parties to devise a plan for sharing all relevant information and/or conducting the necessary discovery that will equip them as expeditiously as possible to enter meaningful settlement discussions or to position the case for disposition by other means;

(7)  Assist the parties to assess litigation costs realistically;

(8)  Assist the parties, through private caucusing and otherwise, to explore the possibility of settling the case;

(9)  Determine whether further action after the session would contribute to the case development process or to settlement.

(b)  Process Rules. The session shall be informal. Rules of Evidence shall not apply. There shall be no formal examination or cross-examination of witnesses, and no recording of the presentations or discussion shall be made.

(c)  Evaluation and Settlement Discussions. The evaluation must be presented orally, and written copies of the evaluation may be provided to the parties at the discretion of the evaluator. The parties should discuss settlement after the evaluation has been presented.

(d)  Confidentiality. Rule 8 of the ADR Rules shall apply to early neutral evaluations.

Added by Order dated April 30, 2012.