Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998: A Twenty-Year Anniversary and Impressive Results

By:  Donald L. Swanson 2018 marks the twenty-year anniversary of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998 [codified at 28 U.S.C. § 651 et seq., the "ADR Act"]. Preamble The preamble to the ADR Act contains these findings on mediation: --“mediation . . . may have potential to reduce the large backlog of cases now... Continue Reading →

The “Estate Neutral” as an Expert Witness, a Mediator and a Financial Advisor

By: Donald L Swanson When ABI’s Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 issued its Final Report in 2014, one creative approach it recommended is to authorize a new bankruptcy position: the "estate neutral." The Final Report says that chapter 11 "needs to offer tools to resolve a debtor’s financial distress." The estate neutral would... Continue Reading →

Creative Mediation System in British Columbia: A Model For Us All

By:  Donald L. Swanson “We have been much struck by the system operated in British Columbia whereby a party can issue a notice to their opponent in a specified form requiring mediation.” “[T]he establishment” of such a system “has led to the growth of informally agreed mediation as a norm” with the formal procedure “only... Continue Reading →

Evolutionary Progress of Mediation is Upward: Toward Greater, Earlier and Mandatory Use

By: Donald L. Swanson “Perhaps no idea has proven more controversial within evolutionary biology than the idea that evolution manifests progress.” --T. Shanahan (7/16/2012) The track-on-a-graph for mediation progress is, without question or controversy, upward! The formal and frequent use of mediation to resolve lawsuits in the U.S. dates back to experimental programs of the... Continue Reading →

Do Rhetorical Questions Diminish a Mediator’s Credibility?

By:  Donald L. Swanson “[I]n settings like mediation, rhetorical questions may not be effective as a persuasion device, and under certain circumstances may even be counter-productive.” --Profs. James Stark & Douglas Frenkel, “Changing Minds: The Work of Meidators and Empirical Studies of Persuasion.” [All information below is from this 2013 article; and see Footnote below.]... Continue Reading →

Setting Interim and Ultimate Goals for a Mediation Effort

By Donald L. Swanson “the Court finds that mediation may be an efficient and effective mechanism . . . to consensually resolve or narrow the objections to the plan.” --Hon. Stuart M. Bernstein, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, Southern District of New York, in Avaya Inc. mediation referral Order dated 9/13/2017 (emphasis added). We can all take a... Continue Reading →

How, (i) Early Neutral Evaluation is Tricky, and (ii) Neutral Mediators Assist Parties in Evaluation

By Donald L. Swanson The problem with early neutral evaluation is this: it’s a prediction. An early neutral evaluator is an expert, who is trying to predict what a judge, jury or appellate court will decide about the merits of a dispute. Early Neutral Evaluation – A Tricky Business Prognostication is always a tricky business.  And... Continue Reading →

A Federal Bankruptcy Rule is Needed for Mediation Authorization and Confidentiality: Four Reasons Why

  By Donald L. Swanson Mediation needs to be included — explicitly and by name — in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.  A new Rule is needed to cover two specific subjects: (i) mediation authorization, and (ii) mediation confidentiality. All other areas of mediation practice and procedure can be addressed in local rules, provided that the... Continue Reading →

A Recommendation for Mandating Mediation in England and Wales

By: Donald L. Swanson The voluntary mediation scheme “does remain under-used.” --October 2017 Interim Report on Mediation in England and Wales England’s Civil Justice Council is an Advisory Body established under the “Civil Procedure Act 1997” to oversee and co-ordinate “the modernization of the civil justice system.” On January 28, 2016, the Council formed a Working... Continue Reading →

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