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Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

Posts Tagged ‘legislation’

When It Comes to Mediation, Less Regulation May Be More

Jennifer Shack, June 16th, 2014

You’re a judge charged with overseeing a voluntary civil case mediation program in your court. Because you’ve been monitoring your program, you know that, though 75% of cases going through mediation are reaching agreement, the program isn’t doing much to reduce judges’ workloads because mediation generally occurs very late in the case.  What do you do?

You have at least three options: (more…)

Texas Supreme Court By-Passes ADR in Rules for Expedited Civil Litigation

Jennifer Shack, November 26th, 2012

I have to admit that when there’s a new statutory mandate for courts to adopt a procedure that expedites resolution at low cost, I immediately think of it as a call for new ADR programs. I’m of course a bit biased, but I see ADR as a great way for courts to move cases more quickly and inexpensively through the judicial system. The Texas Supreme Court, though, saw it very differently and limited, rather than expanded, the use of ADR. (more…)

Speak Justly: Mediators and the Plain Language Movement

Heather Scheiwe Kulp, August 25th, 2011

As a follow-up to last week’s post about interpreter services being required for all mediations, I’d like to pass along a fascinating article titled The Politics and Power of Plain Language by Jane M. Siegel, a professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School (hat tip to Richard Zorza for highlighting this article in his recent post). Siegel references The Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires federal agencies to write all new informational  or filing documents, including (more…)

Uniform Mediation Act – Ten Years Later

Susan M. Yates, July 1st, 2011

The JAMS Dispute Resolution Alert has a good article by Justin Kelly about the ten-year anniversary of the Uniform Mediation Act. Having participated in some of the deliberations during the drafting of the Act, I have been interested to see how it has been implemented.

One thing that stands out to me, even after ten years, is the lack of clarity among mediators, lawyers and the mediating public about exactly what the Act provides in terms of confidentiality. Many see the UMA as providing confidentiality of all mediation communications. In fact, what it provides is much narrower than that. (more…)

A Foreclosure Mediation Hybrid in Hawaii

Heather Scheiwe Kulp, May 13th, 2011

After months of protests from borrowers in The Aloha State, the state legislature’s Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force ushered Hawaii into the ranks of the nearly thirty other states that offer some type of mediation or conciliation program to address foreclosures. But unlike other states, Hawaii has created a program that offers mediation only outside the courts.

Many states offer both judicial (must be approved by the court) and non-judicial (only required to give notice of the sheriff’s sale) foreclosures, though most banks choose, or are required to use, a primary method. In Hawaii, where a foreclosure must be filed is dictated by a clause in the mortgage itself. Banks can include a “power of sale” clause that permits the banks to bypass the courts and sell the property directly if there is a deficiency. This takes about 3 months and about 80% of banks choose this method. If the bank does not include such a clause, it must conduct a judicial foreclosure, which can take up to 13 months. Though Hawaii’s two-year-old pilot foreclosure mediation program was connected directly to the court foreclosure process, Hawaii opted for the state-wide program to exist outside the courts entirely.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law Senate Bill 651, creating the Mortgage Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Program (the “Program”). The Program, which will begin October 1, is predicted to assist 2,000 of the 6,000 borrowers in foreclosure this year. It will be run by Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Administrative Hearings. Interestingly, despite the Program not being connected to the court foreclosure process, §667-C (b) requires the State Judiciary’s Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution to assist with everything from “performance oversight” of personnel to monthly status report generation.

Any borrower who has lived in the residential property for at least 200 days and whose bank files a non-judicial foreclosure with the Bureau of Conveyances may request to use the Program. The face-to-face negotiation, facilitated by a “neutral,” is then set up by the Consumer Affairs Office. The bank then must participate in the dispute resolution process, under threat of up to $1500 in sanctions. The foreclosure process is stayed until the parties reach resolution or come to no agreement.

Most strikingly, Senate Bill 651 allows borrowers to switch from a non-judicial to a judicial foreclosure, which borrower advocates usually see as a better forum. However, if borrowers switch, they lose the right to access the Mortgage Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Program. Instead, they may have access to the negatively-reviewed court pilot foreclosure mediation program available in some areas, which has resulted in fewer than 5 homes saved.

The hard choice for borrowers – either access to a more just foreclosure system in the courts or access to mediation – seems unfair, especially when the court administrators themselves are the ones warning that court foreclosure mediation would be messy. No one should have to choose between mediation’s benefits and justice.