Skip to main content
​​​​The Roles and Responsibilities of a Special Master

​​​​The Roles and Responsibilities of a Special Master

A special master is a court-appointed individual tasked with assisting the court in managing certain aspects of a legal case. They are often used in complex cases where a judge may need additional assistance in handling specific issues related to the case.

Responsibilities to the Court of Special Masters

Special masters can have a variety of responsibilities, depending on the needs of the case. For example, they may be asked to investigate and report on specific issues, such as the discovery of evidence or the management of financial assets. They may also be asked to mediate disputes between parties or make recommendations to the court on how to proceed with the case.

In some instances, special masters may be given the authority to make binding decisions. For example, this would be in the case of a discovery dispute or a dispute over the management of assets. In other instances, they may be asked to provide recommendations to the court, which the court may then adopt or reject.

The Appointment of a Special Master

The appointment of a special master is typically made by the judge overseeing the case. The judge will consider factors such as the case's complexity, the expertise needed to address specific issues, and the availability of qualified individuals to serve in the role.

Special masters are typically experts in the field relevant to the case and have the knowledge and experience to assist the court in making decisions. They are usually impartial and are not a party to the case. They are also bound by ethical rules and have a duty of confidentiality to the court.

It is worth noting that the role of a special master can vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction and the specific case. For example, in federal court, special masters are appointed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which outline the specific authority and responsibilities of the special master. In contrast, some states do not have clear rules governing the appointment of special masters and instead rely on the judge's discretion overseeing the case.

Types of Cases and Costs of a Special Master

Special masters can be used in a variety of types of cases. For example, they are commonly appointed in complex civil litigation, such as class action lawsuits, antitrust cases, and cases involving intellectual property disputes. However, they may also be appointed in cases involving disputes over the management of assets, such as in trusts, estates, and securities fraud.

In addition to their role in managing specific issues related to a case, special masters can also play a critical role in helping to resolve disputes between the parties. For example, they may be asked to mediate disputes or recommend to the court methods to resolve disputes. This can help avoid costly and time-consuming trials and lead to a quicker and more efficient case resolution.

Special masters can play a critical role in the fair and efficient resolution of complex legal cases. They can provide valuable assistance to the court and help ensure the parties receive a fair and just outcome.

Special Master Services