Sunday, December 26, 2010

Orlando Foreclosures

In 2010, Orlando continued to rank among the top 10 U.S. metro areas for foreclosures during the first half of the year — outpacing even Miami.

When the Supreme Court of Florida ordered mediation programs to be managed by agencies outside of the court system, the Orange County Bar Association became one of the neutral managers maintain a rotating list of Certified Circuit-Civil Mediators, each of whom has completed extensive additional foreclosure training.

When filing foreclosure actions on owner-occupied or Homestead property and the homeowner elects to participate in the mediation program, both sides are required to attend the mediation, including the lender's representative with full settlement authority (though this is often done on the telephone).

Thus far, I was pleasantly surprised to have been able to successfully explore work-out style resolutions in my assigned cases as Mediator.

What has been your experience to date as a neutral or counsel to a party in this process?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Arbitration in the crosshairs

I attended an arbitration seminar at my Inns of Court tonight that was put on in conjunction with the AAA. Arbitration is controversial in that no appellate rights really exist in the absence of fraud or mistake. Further, despite the reported cost savings over protracted civil litigation, administrative and panel neutral fees can be expensive.

Suffice it to say that arbitration is becoming unpopular at least in the consumer side of law, with unconscionable agreements and clauses being attacked and litigated.

As the recent oral argument in the case of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion has raised the question whether the federal act permitting arbitration forbids states from overriding contractual waivers of the right to bring class action lawsuits. AT&T’s practice of drafting contracts with the clause blocking class-action filings in favor of arbitration is not unique, with many such companies adopting that language.

Of course, large companies favor negotiations handled in a confidential setting. That is one of the benefits touted of arbitration, versus a public court file and trial.

The ultimate outcome in that U.S. Supreme Court matter will certainly have important nationwide ramifications for consumers and businesses alike.

Welcome to Orlando Mediator

This blog was created by Orlando Mediator Lawrence H. Kolin, Esquire to explore issues and trends in dispute resolution.

My alternative dispute resolution practice has continually evolved since becoming certified in 2001 in Circuit-Civil and County mediation by the Florida Supreme Court. I have handled complex cases in state and federal trial courts, as well as the Fifth District Court of Appeal, where I was a member of the pilot program for appellate mediation.

Since litigation costs have gone up and the economy is still sour, early settlements are on the rise. Pre-suit mediation is popular and can be effective if the parties have enough information to evaluate their positions in the potential litigation.

Another recent development has been the advent of electronic discovery and the struggle by courts and lawyers to get a handle on the necessity and expense of producing and exchanging data in proportion to the amount in controversy. Early mediation of these e-discovery issues can actually help narrow the scope and return the focus of the parties to the merits of the case.