A pilot program aimed at resolving debt collection lawsuits without the parties having to go to court is being expanded in New Mexico. The Online Dispute Resolution service, as of Sept. 1, is not available to all magistrate and district courts in the state.
Previously, the service was only available to residents living within one of three judicial districts. The service is available for lawsuits that fall under “money due” or debt cases. In one county, about 3,000 lawsuits would have bee eligible for the service between April 2018 and April 2019, according to a published report. Most of those suits are a result of individuals not paying their credit card bills.
No attorneys are required to represent either the plaintiff or the defendant and there is no charge for defendants to use the service. Once a complaint is filed and a summons has been issued to the defendant, the two sides can use the service to negotiate a settlement. If a settlement is not reached, either side can request the participation of a trained mediator.
The parties have 30 days to try and reach a settlement. If one is not reached, the case proceeds to court.
An instructional video about the Online Dispute Resolution service is available here.