Online mediation service helps residents resolve disputes without going to court
The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the availability of MI-Resolve, an online service that provides an efficient and affordable way of resolving disputes that are typically filed as small claims, general civil, or landlord-tenant cases in the district court. Initially available in 17 counties (see map), the online service is one of the first of its kind in the nation.
“Making court services more accessible means opening both real and virtual courtroom doors,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack. “With the help of groundbreaking services such as MI-Resolve, Michigan is a national leader in boosting access to justice online.”
Through MI-Resolve, parties can resolve their disputes online with or without the help of a trained neutral person, known as a mediator. The mediator works to help parties identify a solution to a dispute that best works for them; the system walks the parties through the steps to reach a resolution. The new online service is a game changer because people who are busy with work or children can benefit from mediation on their own schedule.
Individuals do not need to have a case filed in court to use MI-Resolve, but if they do have a case pending in court, they can still use this service to try to reach a settlement before a hearing or trial date. Currently, there is no fee to use MI-Resolve.
During the pilot phase, case types are limited to:
• Claims alleging that money is owed (typically small claims and general civil cases in district court)
• Contract disputes
• Neighborhood disputes
• Landlord-tenant matters (such as rent owed and repairs-but not eviction proceedings)
Anyone who wishes to use the MI-Resolve service must:
• Live, work, or have a dispute in one of the counties identified on this map. (Note: Those who do not live or work in one of these counties or who don’t have a dispute that arose in these counties can still use other forms of dispute resolution.)
• Have access to the internet and have an active e-mail address.
• Agree to the terms listed in the Agreement to Mediate.
• Be over the age of 18.
Around the world, online dispute resolution is growing in popularity and is seen as a key to increasing access to court services. Michigan’s pilot project is expected to expand statewide in the near future.
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