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More Whats' New
Mediation Given Key Role in Gulf Oil Spill Settlement (5/15/12) Keith Seat
A federal judge in the BP gulf oil spill case has named a mediator to focus on resolving seafood claims for which $2.3 billion has been set aside in the proposed class action settlement. The seafood claims cover commercial fishing and oyster leaseholders and harvesters, but not the processing or sale of seafood. This is the only portion of the settlement that is capped, with the overall settlement estimated to be about $7.8 billion.
Conflict is Inevitable. War is Not. (4/30/12) Christianna Gozzi Conflict resolution practitioners can work to design conflict management procedures which are practical, efficient and usable at every level of society, thus increasing the probabilities that humans will chose a non-violent system over war.
A Little More Conversation (3/26/12) John Sturrock The next two years present Scotland and the rest of the UK with a unique opportunity. How we conduct the discussion of the constitutional question (whether or not Scotland should become an independent nation) could be as important as the outcome.
City Uses Mediation to Avoid Bankruptcy (3/12/12) Keith Seat
Stockton, California avoided bankruptcy by bringing in a mediator to resolve disputes with creditors and unions, as required by a California law enacted last year. Stockton is the first city affected by the law, and might be the beginning of a trend, as other cities in California are under financial stress. Twenty-four states permit municipalities to file Chapter 9 bankruptcies, with some restrictions.
World Bank Analyzes ADR Benefits (3/12/12) Keith Seat
A World Bank paper discusses the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution, looking at the empirical benefits of mediation and other forms of ADR and noting the need for additional studies outside the U.S. The short paper, by the Investment Climate Impact Project, focuses on measurable issues of cost savings and timing. It also discusses less measurable impacts, such as improving business relationships and problem-solving skills, reducing pressure on courts, and improving investors’ perceptions about the safety of business investments in emerging markets.
U.K. Trying Regional Workplace Mediation Networks (2/07/12) Keith Seat
The U.K. Government announced that it is establishing two regional mediation networks for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in a pilot program to reduce workplace disputes and the number of employment tribunal cases. The mediation networks will be in Cambridge and Manchester, with mediation training of employees at 24 SMEs, as smaller companies are often not aware of the benefits of mediation and rarely use it. Trained mediators will then be able to assist other organizations in their regional network. The government is seeking a provider for the first round of mediation training. The pilot program is part of the government’s reform of the employment tribunal system; in the last two years tribunal claims have risen to 218,000, an increase of 44 percent. The program will run 12 months and expand to other areas if successful.
Japanese Mediation Center Beginning to Resolve Fukushima Nuclear Accident Claims (2/07/12) Keith Seat
The mediation center established by the Japanese government is now beginning to resolve claims resulting from the Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe, with three resolutions from the 600 claims that have been submitted thus far. Many more claims are likely from the 150,000 people displaced by the nuclear accident, but to begin the process each claimant must complete a 56-page form using a 150-page instruction manual and provide receipts and other documentation. The Japanese government has set up a $26 billion fund to pay damages on behalf of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), with another $11.7 billion approved in November and more likely to follow. Few lawsuits have been filed, although one lawyer is threatening to file a shareholder derivative action against Tepco’s corporate directors seeking $72 billion for failing to raise the height of tsunami barriers.
A Mediator's Reflections on the Occupy Movement (1/30/12) Grace Eagle Reed The police in Portland, unlike other cities of its size, became national examples of progressive community policing during the Occupy Movement. By calmly responding to the conflict around them, they are open to ongoing community feedback, are continuing to look for ways to do a better job and are using better judgment when they have to restrain protestors. Their patience and openness is appreciated by all involved. It is also the perfect example of a counter-story peacefully challenging the accepted stock story, for the betterment of all involved.
Knee-Jerk Responses (3/27/11) Joe Markowitz Since we hung back several weeks before intervening militarily in Libya, Gingrich attacked the administration for that. Once we intervened, Gingrich attacked the administration for that. I'm sure some of Newt Gingrich's supporters prefer this stance of unrelenting opposition, but I have to think a lot of voters looking for a more coherent, logical approach, must be turned off by it.
Excuse Me for Having to Be Rescued: Negotiating Order in Japan (3/14/11) Victoria Pynchon I do not know anyone who would apologize to their rescuers for the inconvenience caused by the need to be saved. And I cannot imagine the destruction to my own City by the occurrence of a quake with a magnitude greater than eight. I do know, however, that in the face of crisis, whether we live in Hollywood, Tokyo, Cairo, New Orleans, New York City, or Bangalore, we pull together, set aside our differences, care first for the weakest and and carry on.
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.
Greensboro Launches Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program (5/20/10) Keith Seat
The city of Greensboro, North Carolina is working with the Conflict Studies and Dispute Resolution Program of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to launch a program to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. The Landlord-Tenant Dispute Program has been developed with input from all stakeholders. The program is intended to reduce litigation, but depends on both sides voluntarily agreeing to participate.