Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)
Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)
  • Defining ENE
  • Appropriate cases for ENE and timing
  • Benefits of ENE
  • The ENE agreement
  • ENE procedure
  • Judicial ENE
  • Court specific guidance

This Practice Note explains what early neutral evaluation (ENE) is. It provides guidance on the interpretation and application of the relevant provisions of the CPR. Depending on the court in which your matter is proceeding, you may also need to be mindful of additional provisions—see further below.

Defining ENE

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) whereby the parties invite a neutral third party to give an opinion on the merits of their case or particular aspects of the case. The evaluator will generally be a lawyer or an expert in the field, but as discussed further below, the evaluator may also be a judge.

CPR 3.1(2)(m) provides that hearing an ENE in order to assist parties to settle their cases, forms part of the court's general case management powers in furtherance of the overriding objective—see also Practice Note: Case management—court's powers—Dispute Resolution. The court also has the power under CPR 3.1(2)(m) to compel the parties to attend judge-led dispute resolution by way of ENE, even where one of them does not consent to this (Lomax v Lomax and see News Analysis: Early neutral evaluation—focusing minds and reaching an early settlement (Lomax v Lomax as Executor of the Estate of Alan Joseph Lomax (Deceased))).

In Lomax, one of the parties had already consented to an ENE procedure