Have you exhausted your administrative remedies?

When you have a legal issue, there are typically two aspects of your case. There are the "merits" of your claim. This is what most people understand to be your legal issue. The merits of a case are important; if you have some problem that is not really suited for the courts, you may be frustrated by the process and unsatisfied by the results.

If your merits have merit, you also have to approach the case properly and in the appropriate forum and follow the correct procedures. These procedural issues will be handled by your attorney, but you should discuss with them how the case will proceed in order to properly set expectations and prevent misunderstandings as the case moves forward.

A series of cases involving the payment of royalties for gas flared at drilling sites has experienced a setback, after the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that the mineral rights owners failed to exhaust their administrative remedies in the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

Exhaustion of administrative remedies is typically required because it conserves judicial resources and, in most cases, allows administrative entities with specialized expertise in the matter time to fully develop a factual record of the case and dispose of the matter.

In the case of the Industrial Commission, the situation is more problematic, as the commission is a relatively political body, consisting of the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner.

The parties to the lawsuit had hoped to obtain class status, as that would have made it more economical for the case to proceed. Some are worried that it will cost more to litigate the individual cases that could be recovered.

When considering litigation, you should discuss the matter with your attorney, including the proper forum for the initial claim and calculate the additional complexity, time, cost and likelihood of success in that forum that this may bring to your case.

Source: bismarktribune.com, "North Dakota Supreme Court rejects appeal on flared gas royalties," Amy Dalrymple, June 3, 2016

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