Mini-trials

In a mini-trial, sometimes referred to as a ‘mock’ trial, the parties argue their case in front of a tribunal.  Procedures are usually an abbreviated imitation of courtroom formality but unlike litigation a mini-trial tribunal’s findings are not binding. 

The arguments for each side are rehearsed in front of the tribunal, weighed and judgement given.  This process may be quicker and cheaper than the binding procedures it imitates and it forewarns the parties of the probable outcome should the trial be repeated in a court of law.  This focuses the parties’ minds on the difficulties they would face and the costs they would risk in litigation. It also makes them properly aware of the arguments for each side.  This may assist them reach agreement and avoid protracted dispute.

A variant is the ‘executive tribunal’; a panel of senior executives from each party – usually with a mediator or expert as neutral chairperson.  Following the presentations, the executives meet (with or without the mediator or expert) to negotiate a settlement on the basis of what they have heard.