Monday, February 2, 2015

ADR Rules & Policy Responds to Comments on ADR Process Rules for which No Other Standards Exist

The Supreme Court of Florida's Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy is proposing amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules, Family Law Rules, and brand-new Florida Rules for Court-Appointed Alternative Dispute Resolution Neutrals Regarding Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes for which No Other Supreme Court Rules or Standards for Professional Conduct Exist. Comments were filed at the end of last year to which Committee Chair, Hon. William D. Palmer, Fifth District Court of Appeal has responded, stating the new rules and standards provide basic rules intended to provide some level of guidance to practitioners and protection to consumers for ADR processes for which no guidance or protections currently exist. Current ADR processes which have promulgated rules and standards would not be subject to these rules. According to the committee's response, some of the "Other ADR Processes" are currently authorized in statute (such as Voluntary Trial Resolution) and others are being utilized by courts and parties with no particular statement of authority (such as Early Neutral Evaluation). The ADR Rules and Policy Committee seeks to encourage expanded and innovative use of ADR processes without fear of placing parties in jeopardy. The committee feels there is no way of knowing what Other ADR Process will be selected or created by parties or the court, and so there is no way to suggest specific qualifications, certifications, definitions or an appropriate disciplinary process. Due to the unknown nature of which process may be selected, the committee feels it must be up to the court ordering the process to establish some guidance for the process. With regard to confidentiality, the committee states there are many ADR processes for which confidentiality is neither appropriate nor expected. The committee did agree to modify defining a neutral as follows: an impartial third party who is not predisposed to the resolution or outcome of the process who participates at the request of the parties or the court in order to help facilitate settlement or resolution of a dispute. The committee concludes that the adoption of new rules may lead to experience necessary for novel ADR processes to gain popularity, after which time the courts and/or legislature may have confidence to adopt more specific rules for those utilized successfully over a period of time. It is unclear whether the Supreme Court of Florida will hold oral argument on this proposal. See more in filings for Case No. SC14-1852 at