Guaranteed Collaborative Outcome

In case of no agreement at the end of Final Session, Smartsettle negotiators may choose the assistance of Expert Neutrals (usually three people) from a published roster to help in making a settlement decision. This unique and face-saving way of guaranteeing a negotiated decision also encourages early fair concessions. This method is called the Expert Neutral Decider (END).  END rewards fairness without identifying a clear loser (unlike Pendulum Arbitration). In so doing, it maintains a good atmosphere for continued harmonious relationships.

How it Works

If parties agree to the intervention of the END and no agreement is reached at the end of Final Session, Smartsettle uses the opinion of an Expert Neutral to favor the party whose last accepted value (secret bid) was closest to fair. The following illustration applies directly to a Smartsettle ONE negotiation but the same principles apply to Smartsettle Infinity.

Suppose that Party A and Party B make visible proposals of 47 and 62 respectively, having conceded from earlier more optimistic proposals. They also each make a secret acceptance (secret bid) (49 and 60 respectively) and end the session. In the next session, which one of the parties has declared as Final, the parties move their secret bids to 51 and 57 respectively. Final Session ends with no overlap and thus no settlement as shown below.

Since the parties are each willing to accept an outcome between the last visible proposals they agree to intervention with Smartsettle’s END. The Expert Neutrals are given access to the Single Negotiating Framework (including all relevant documentation that will form part of the final agreement). They are also shown a range of values that covers the two final secret bids and extends an equal distance beyond each of the last secret bids to include the nearest visible proposal. In this case, the range of values shown to the Neutrals is as follows:

47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61

The Neutrals are not aware of what the secret bids or visible proposals are. All they know is that the range includes at least one of the visible proposals and that the secret bid gap is centered on the total range. The Neutral is instructed to choose one of these values that is the closest to fair and equitable in their expert opinion. “Fair” is deemed to be the middle value of the expert opinions.

If the value determined as fair by the Neutrals falls exactly in the middle between the secret bids, or does not fall between the secret bids at all, then that value becomes the outcome. Otherwise RCB is used to reward the party closest to fair.  Rounding if necessary is in favor of the party closest to fair.

In this case, suppose that 55 is deemed to be Fair.

In this example, Fair (55) falls between the secret bids. Since 55 is closer to 57 than 51 the final binding award is calculated to be a little less than 56 but rounded to 56 in favor of Party B who was closer to fair.

Party A might suspect that Party B was favored in this case but they can’t tell for sure. Party B has no clue who was favored.


Combined with Visual Blind Bidding, the Expert Neutral Decider provides the best of both worlds. It encourages fair compromises early in the process, thus minimizing the actual need for intervention, and it does this all without identifying a clear loser.