Giving Away Money: Comparative Comments on Claims Resolution Facilities

by Mark A. Peterson

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Claims resolution facilities are created to provide efficient means to distribute money to claimants, primarily by reducing participation in the litigation system. Existing claims facilities differ in their emphasis on these and other objectives, and have had varying success. It is still too early to assess these facilities definitively; some have not become fully operational, while others have already been reorganized. Nevertheless, their experiences suggest that certain features may make claims facilities more or less successful in achieving their basic objectives. This article considers how the structures and operations of these facilities related to their relative success. Claims facilities seem productive in the most contentious of situations. They are also successful in the least contentious situations. The success of claims facilities is more clouded where their objectives are most ambitious, that is, where the facility has been substituted for litigation of great stakes to claimants. Claims facilities present a complex array of legal issues, litigation strategies, and administrative difficulties that affect many parties with varying interests. The novel problems facing these facilities will be resolved most successfully if parties have the flexibility to let the facilities evolve and are willing to cooperate to achieve sensible solutions.

Originally published in: Law and Contemporary Problems, v. 53, no. 4, Autumn 1990, pp. 113-13.

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