Special Masters may serve based upon the agreement of the parties or by order of the court and can serve in a wide variety of roles.
Discovery Special Masters
The use of Special Masters in discovery is relatively commonplace. A Discovery Special Master can manage a discovery plan, issue orders resolving discovery disputes, make recommendations to the judge and monitor ongoing discovery.
A Discovery Special Master can even sit in on a deposition in the event that it is particularly contentious. The use of Special Masters as to discovery has long ago proven to be a cost-effective manner in which to expedite and streamline litigation.
In some jurisdictions, Special Masters are also referred to as a Coordinating Master. These individuals perform work in connection with litigation that requires them to coordinate activities in a variety of ways. For example, they may meet and confer with employers to develop proposed discovery plans and limitations on discovery, as well as develop proposed orders to submit to the judge in connection with contested hearings.
A relatively new concept is that of an E-Discovery Special Master. Special E-Discovery Masters have become more and more popular over the last few years as the level of technical detail simply outgrew what most judges could comprehend without a significant commitment of their time.
A Special Master can take the time necessary to understand and properly address technical e-discovery issues. Special Masters can be especially effective in cases with a large amount of privileged documents. Typically in such cases, the parties require the judge to review arguably privileged documents on camera to determine their actual status. In the new electronic world, there can literally be thousands of electronic documents to review.
Technical Special Masters
Another frequently used type of Special Master occurs when a court appoints them to perform a technical task such as cloning a party’s hard drive or performing an actual onsite inspection of the materials found on a personal computer. While the actual work performed can vary greatly depending upon the case, to have a Special Master who can be onsite, “on call”, or readily available can prove to be a much more effective way to proceed.
Another adjunct to the court system is known as a Receiver. As a Receiver, the individual would hold and preserve property until a dispute is resolved. A Receiver could also be given extensive responsibilities during the pendency of a case. In some cases, Receivers are actually appointed to oversee a business as well as the selling or leasing of particular assets. As with a Special Master, a Receiver can also prove to be a cost-effective means by which to limit the parties’ dispute and provide means by which a case can more easily be resolved.
Benefits of Special Masters
Some parties hesitate to use Special Masters because they view it as an additional added litigation expense. Parties typically split the cost, although judges have the discretion to apportion accordingly if they feel discovery abuses occurred.
At Central Florida Mediation Group, LLC, our experience has been that a Special Master can tremendously streamline the litigation process, speed things up, and come up with solutions, all of which prove to reduce costs. While it may seem more expensive to have a Special Master, if disputes are handled expeditiously and the litigation process is shortened, costs may actually be reduced through the utilization of a Special Master.
Central Florida Mediation Group, LLC, offers Special Master and Receivership Services as an adjunct to the court process. Individuals that comprise Central Florida Mediation Group, LLC, include former judges and Board Certified attorneys, as well as individuals with particular expertise in areas such as family law, real estate, and construction.
Central Florida Mediation Group, LLC, provides all of these services both based upon the agreement of the parties and orders entered by a trial court.