Friday, November 11, 2011

Supreme Court of Florida Amends Mediation Appearance Rule

New language from the Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy filed by petition to amend rule 1.720 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure becomes effective on January 1, 2012. The revisions pertain to the requirements for the appearance of a party or a party’s representative at a mediation conference. The proposals were in response to the charge to monitor court rules governing alternative dispute resolution procedures and to make recommendations as necessary to improve the use of mediation. This opinion linked below sets forth the changes and requires physical presence of a party unless otherwise stipulated in writing or excused by court order. A representative of an insurance carrier for any insured party who is not such carrier’s outside counsel is deemed to appear if that person has full authority to settle in an amount up to the amount of the plaintiff’s last demand or policy limits, whichever is less, without further consultation. Additionally, 10 days prior to appearing at a mediation conference, a notice shall be filed with the court and served, identifying the person or persons who will be attending the mediation conference as a party representative or as an insurance carrier representative. Given the nature of the way things transpire today, a rude awakening could be in store for some litigants. See more in the decision and comments: