Increasingly, couples seeking divorce are using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to resolve issues in divorce proceedings. Mediation is probably the most common type of ADR method used in divorce cases today. While not advisable in all cases, this approach to navigating the divorce process can work well when couples are on equal footing, and want to plan for the future and have a role in developing the settlement agreement that will get them there. read
5/20:Group calls for uniform international arbitration rules
Lawyers are hoping for more consistent rules for international arbitration across Canada as plans are in the works to smooth out differences between the provinces and territories. A working group is looking into creating consistent laws throughout the country on issues from the power of arbitral tribunals to make ex parte orders to whether it’s appropriate to have the same limitation periods everywhere in Canada. It’s a step toward making Canada an “arbitration-friendly” country, says Gerald Ghikas, a commercial arbitration lawyer at Vancouver Arbitration Chambers who’s also chairman of a working group that’s proposing the changes. read
5/20:State Supreme Court Mandates Arbitration in Nursing Home Death Case
The Florida Supreme Court recently made it more difficult for the families of wrongful death victims to have their cases heard in court. In February, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a mandatory arbitration agreement signed by an elderly nursing home patient extended to, and was binding on, his estate and heirs. Many states refuse to enforce binding arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts, as they can be unconscionably biased in favor of the nursing home, but the justices refused to make such a declaration in this case. read
5/20:Lawyer Says RCMP Refuses To Mediate Harassment Suit
A lawyer representing 300 women who worked for the RCMP alleging harassment and gender-based discrimination in a lawsuit says the national police force is declining an offer to mediate. read
5/20:Mediate "The Way" says Fiji Chief Justice
Fiji CJ Anthony Gates believes that it was the failure of the non-confrontational approach widely used in Fiji that contributed to the first two coups of 1987. Speaking at the ADR International Seminar held in Kochin, India, Justice Gates said mediation has begun to play a more significant role in Fiji today. Justice Gates told the participants that Fiji had its own mediation system in the past. He said the mediation system was in place even before the missionaries arrived and it was known as 'i soro'. read
5/20:Attorneys ordered to mediation in big-rig crash suit
Attorneys involved in a personal injury lawsuit filed by a family hurt in a crash that left their car suspended off a Highway 101 bridge have been ordered to mediation. read
5/20:New mediation service aims to resolve rental disputes
A new mediation service in Fargo, ND aims to prevent landlord and tenant disputes from leading to court or eviction. A mediation service for landlords and tenants was created by the Successful Outcomes for Tenants and Landlords Committee, which is made up of area landlords and representatives of housing agencies. read
5/17:Bermuda: Gang Mediation Structure Put In Place
A structure has been put in place around gang mediation and police officers will directly engage with students to stem the growth of the gang culture, read
5/17:Charles Schwab Drops Forced-Arbitration Clause From Contracts
After AT&T somehow convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that a couple of sentences buried toward the end of a contract that maybe .05% of customers ever think about reading was all that was needed to preempt class-action lawsuits, many large companies have rushed to pack their user agreements and licenses with clauses that force customers into arbitration. But, stuck in a battle with an industry regulator, the folks at Charles Schwab have decided to go another way, announcing that they have gotten rid of their arbitration clause… for now. read
5/17:More ADR Tools for Shippers
Arbitration, and not litigation, is the driving force behind rules that federal regulators hope will settle simmering disputes between freight railroads and shippers, including coal plant operators.
The Surface Transportation Board announced the policies May 13, after nearly three years of studying prolonged rate challenge cases. “Changes to the arbitration rules are intended to consolidate and simplify formerly separate arbitration procedures and to encourage greater use of arbitration,” the board said. read
Minnesota Farmer-Lender Mediation Program Having Bigger Impact (1/12/11) Keith Seat
The annual report on the Farmer-Lender Mediation Program in Minnesota shows further increase in the use of mediation in the program. In 2010, farm enterprises and lenders completed over 400 mediations involving $624 million in debt, which was nearly double the amount in 2009. Creditors with secured debts over $5,000 against agricultural property in Minnesota are required to offer mediation prior to judgment collection, repossession or foreclosure. Farmers choosing mediation have 90 days to work with lenders to renegotiate their debts.
EEOC Reports Record Number of Mediation Resolutions (1/12/11) Keith Seat
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that in fiscal 2010 it set records both for the number of charges received, at just under 100,000, and the number of resolutions in its mediation program, which were up ten percent. The agency also set a record for the amount of monetary relief obtained for individuals, at $319 million, of which over $140 million was obtained in mediations.
North Dakota Expands Agricultural Mediation to Oil Exploration (11/23/10) Keith Seat
The Agricultural Mediation Service of North Dakota has been authorized to expand beyond helping farmers, ranchers and their creditors to addressing disputes between landowners, producers and energy companies. While the mediation program is voluntary and requires agreement to participate by both sides, the leading oil and gas industry organization in the state, the North Dakota Petroleum Council, is encouraging its members to use mediation to maintain strong relationships with surface owners.
Missouri Proposes Mandatory Mediation for All Large Civil Cases (11/23/10) Keith Seat
A commission of the Missouri Supreme Court has issued a report proposing revisions to the state’s mediation rule, including court-ordered mediation in all civil cases with a demand over $25,000. The commission also considered the Uniform Mediation Act, but proposes merely to clarify the state’s current rules on admissibility and confidentiality. While recognizing that mandatory mediation may be a challenge in rural areas where mediation is less common, the commission was influenced by the national trend towards mediation. The commission began with surveys that showed a high level of use and satisfaction with mediation in Missouri and a majority favoring court-ordered mediation in all cases. The commission is seeking input on its proposals by early December and expects the Court to act by next summer.
British Culture Minister Seeks Mediation Service to Address Online Privacy (11/23/10) Keith Seat
The British Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries is proposing a new mediation service to give an additional means of redress to consumers concerned about breaches of online privacy or seeking to get inaccurate personal information removed from the internet. The Minister is also pushing an updated code of internet conduct and seeking to meet with internet service providers and other key players to encourage their participation.
Tulsa Mayor and City Council Continue to Sort out Process to Address Disputes Between Them (11/09/10) Keith Seat
While the mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma continues to favor formal mediation to resolve pending legal issues and other disputes with the City Council, the council has concluded that it should only participate in facilitated open meetings in order to comply with the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act. An earlier plan for council members to meet in smaller closed groups to determine the ground rules for an open meeting has been rejected as improper circumvention of the Open Meetings Act. Potential issues include a criminal probe, actual and threatened litigation and an ethics complaint, but the mayor is awaiting communication about the exact purpose of the open meeting. The mayor says he is likely to attend, but is concerned about the posturing, cheap shots and criticism that are likely at open meetings.
SBA Encourages Greater Use of ADR in Appeals (9/28/10) Keith Seat
The Small Business Association recently modified its regulations covering appeals before its Office of Hearings and Appeals, including two provisions to encourage greater use of alternative dispute resolution. The first adds Sec. 134.216(b) to permit a judge to offer ADR to the parties at any time. The second provision adds Sec. 134.216(c) to permit designation of either a judge or an OHA attorney to serve as an ADR neutral. Other clarified provisions which address mediation are in section 134.804-807.
Tulsa Mayor and City Counsel Jockey over Mediation of Disputes Between Them (9/28/10) Keith Seat
The mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the City Council are embroiled in numerous disputes between them and are discussing mediation as a possible avenue for resolution. The current list of nine potential agenda items for mediation includes a criminal probe, actual and threatened litigation and an ethics complaint. A former Oklahoma Supreme Court justice and another retired judge are being considered to act as co-mediators. The City Council is taking a formal vote on whether to mediate the disputes. How the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act would impact the mediation is also being analyzed. The former justice emphasized the importance of mediation confidentiality, but stated that confidentiality is consistent with the Open Meeting Act as long as the mediation only discusses proposals, with the Council publicly voting on whether to mediate and on the issues to be mediated, and then publicly explaining, justifying and voting on any resolution at the end of the process.
Five NYC Hospitals Participating in Federally-Funded Mediation Program (9/28/10) Keith Seat
Five New York City hospitals have agreed to participate in a three-year mediation pilot program, which is receiving $3 million in federal funding. Under the program, hospitals will admit medical mistakes early, offer settlements more quickly and use judges to mediate disputes. The goal is to cut medical-malpractice costs and reduce the $1.4 billion spent on med-mal premiums in New York state each year.
The Wall Street Journal (July 23, 2010)
We All Have A Part To Play In Coalition’s Success . . . Or Failure (8/09/10) John Sturrock We all know something really interesting happened in British politics with the agreement of
the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to work in coalition. What is interesting is the reaction. People don't quite know how to deal with it. We are
accustomed to an adversarial approach in politics. So, the observations now tend to focus
on the differences and potential areas of disagreement – and where it might go wrong.
Can Government Solve Big Problems Collaboratively? (7/12/10) John Folk-Williams The Open Government Initiative of the Obama Administration has given high priority to increasing the use of collaboration in the federal government. Yet many federal offices have not in the past encouraged the sort of collaborative mindset that is necessary for meaningful efforts in this direction.
Feinberg Selected as Independent Claims Administrator for BP Compensation Fund (7/12/10) Keith Seat
As widely reported, Kenneth Feinberg has been appointed the independent claims administrator for the $20 billion BP compensation fund for the extensive damages caused by its ongoing oil spill. BP has established more than 400 claim centers across the Gulf Coast and is also accepting claims through its website and by telephone. Feinberg will be paid by BP, although the amount is still being negotiated.
Legislative Mediation Proposed for Congress (7/12/10) Keith Seat
An editorial in the Washington Post entitled “Congress needs a mediation tool to dissolve gridlock” emphasizes the need to build consensus in Congress to avoid stalemates and the dysfunction that has resulted in approval ratings for Congress falling below 25 percent. The editorial emphasizes the importance of good process, and suggests establishing a politically neutral service to provide legislative mediation organized along the lines of the Congressional Budget Office. A legislative mediation service could enrich the policy debate by highlighting information in a nonpartisan manner. And when requested by legislators, mediation techniques could be used to help the parties understand their interests, generate possible solutions and help find common ground.
No Risk? No Hope Then Either (7/05/10) Ronald S. Kraybill I witnessed with alarm a recent ruling of the US Supreme Court regarding the U.S. PATRIOT Act. This Act makes it illegal to give support of any kind to groups listed by the US government as terrorist groups, even if the support is designed to end violence.
U.S. Arbitration And Mediation Legislative Update (7/05/10) Victoria VanBuren The following bills relating to alternative dispute resolution were introduced by the 111st U.S. Congress. The session will last from January 3, 2009 until January 3, 2011. Click on the bill number to read its text and on the status link to find the bill’s most recent legislative action.
Washington Post: Congress Needs Mediation (6/21/10) Jeff Thompson In today's Washington Post, L. Michael Hager writes about the ever present disfunction of Congress and it it could help if it had a service where a third party neutral helps each party identify the issues and then explore possible solutions which meet, at least partially, each of their needs. He or she helps them make their own decision to determine what is best for them- given the situation.
DOJ Mediation Eases Racial Tension in Florida Community (5/20/10) Keith Seat
A routine traffic stop led to violence between police officers and a crowd in Lake Wales, Florida in November. After the local NAACP chapter began talks with the city, the U.S. Department of Justice began meeting in December and reached a mediation agreement in March. DOJ used its new mediation program called City Site Problem Identifying and Resolving Issues Together (City SPIRIT). The Lake Wales agreement includes representation of African-American and other minorities in city government and budget decisions, as well as improving communications and cultural sensitivity through training programs.