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Presentation



Slide   1: Confidentiality in Federal ADR Proceedings

Department of the Interior
  May 9, 2006

Daniel P. Dozier, Robert   Fisher and Charles Pou

 

Slide   2: Confidentiality is Important to Settlement Practice

Confidentiality

  •  
  • Of neutrals 5 USC 574(a)
  •  
  • Of parties 5 USC 574(b)

 

Slide 3: Neutrals   [574(a)]

A neutral shall not disclose   . . . . unless:

  •  
  • All parties & neutral     consent in writing
  •  
  • Already public
  •  
  • Required by statute "to     be made public"
  •  
  • Court-ordered

 

Slide 4: Parties   [574(b)]

Parties shall not disclose   . . . . unless:

  •  
  • Generally the same exceptions     as for neutral
  •  
  • Additional exception:    
    •      
    • Communication from         a party
    •      
    • Available to all         parties
    •    

Note: Communications from   neutral are still confidential

 

Slide 5: "Otherwise   Discoverable"

If the information is "otherwise   discoverable" it is not made confidential because it was presented in   a dispute resolution proceeding.

 

Slide 6: Confidentiality   is Important to Settlement Practice

  •  
  • Effectiveness of settlement     efforts depends, in large part, on confidentiality expectations
  •  
  • Confidentiality of settlement     deliberations is supported by FRCP [Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] 68 &     FRE [Federal Rules of Evidence] 408

 

Slide 7: Party Expectations

  •  
  • Cornerstone of mediation     process
  •  
  • "Everything that is said     in the room stays in the room"

 

Slide 8: Meeting   expectations

  •  
  • Neutrals' disclosure
  •  
  • Parties' understanding
  •  
  • Appropriate disclosure

 

Slide 9: Meeting   expectations

  •  
  • Neutrals should set     maximum reasonable expectations
  •  
  • Know and understand     the standards that apply
  •  
  • Have and use confidentiality     agreements, model statements, sample confidentiality provisions and standard     procedures

 

Slide 10: Meeting   expectations

  •  
  • Promote appropriate     day-to-day confidentiality in all aspects and stages of ADR activity including:    
    •      
    • Giving advice and         information
    •      
    • Intake procedures
    •      
    • Document retention
    •      
    • Evaluation and quality         assurance procedures, and
    •      
    • Document handling         protocols for neutrals
    •    
     
  • Set high confidentiality     expectations

 

Slide 11: Primary   ADR Statutes

  •  
  • Administrative Dispute     Resolution Act of 1996 - Applies to "DR processes" to resolve     "issues in controversy" relating to "administrative programs"
  •  
  • Alternative Dispute     Resolution Act of 1998 - Applies to actions within jurisdiction of federal     courts

 

Slide 12: Intent   of Statutory Confidentiality Provisions

  •  
  • Balance need for confidentiality     in ADR with the need for openness in government
  •  
  • Establish legal underpinning     for basic concepts of confidentiality in ADR- supported settlement negotiations
  •  
  • Protect confidentiality     of communications involving neutrals

 

Slide 13: Administrative   Dispute Resolution Act of 1996

Confidentiality Provisions

5 U.S.C. Section 574

 

Slides 14 - 16:   General Scope of ADR Act Confidentiality Protection

Prohibits voluntary     or compulsory disclosure of communications made during a dispute resolution     proceeding

   
  •      
  • Requires a neutral's         involvement
  •      
  • Communication must         be made for the purpose of the proceeding
  •    
   

 

Slide 17: Primary   Confidentiality Provisions

Prohibits disclosure of   DR communications by:

  •  
  • Neutrals 5 U.S.C. 574(a)
  •  
  • Parties 5 U.S.C. 574(b)

 

Slides 18 - 22:   Limits on Communications by a Neutral

  •  
  • All parties &     neutral consent in writing
  •  
  • Already made public
  •  
  • Required by statute     "to be made public"
  •  
  • Court orders disclosure     (balancing test)

 

Slides 23 - 26:   Limits on Communications by a Party

Generally the same exceptions   as for neutral, except can also disclose

  •  
  • Own communications
  •  
  • A communication from     another party that is available to all parties

(Note: Communications from   neutral to a party are confidential)

Slide 27: No Effect   on "Otherwise Discoverable" Information

If information communicated   is "otherwise discoverable", it is not made confidential simply because it was   presented in a dispute resolution proceeding.

 

Slides 28 - 31:   Impact on Ability to Obtain Documents through FOIA

Federal records cannot be   obtained under FOIA if they are:

  •  
  • communications between     a neutral & a party,
  •  
  • prepared for the dispute     resolution proceeding, and
  •  
  • exempt from disclosure     under 574(a) or (b)
  •  

     

Slides 32 - 34:   Consequences of Unlawful Disclosure

If communication is disclosed   in violation of 574(a) or (b)

  •  
  • The communication is     inadmissible for any purpose in a related proceeding    
    •      
    • Can be used in an         unrelated proceeding
    •      
    • Other causes of         action may apply
    •    
     
  •  

     

Slide 35: Alternative   Dispute Resolution Act of 1998

28 U.S.C.A. 651, et. seq

 

Slides 36 - 37:   General Scope of Statutory Provisions

  •  
  • devise & implement     an ADR program
  •  
  • adopt a local rule to     "provide for the confidentiality of the ADR processes and to prohibit disclosure of confidential   dispute resolution communications"

 

Slides 38 - 39:   Court Confidentiality Rules Vary Significantly

Compare E.D. Pa.   Local Rule 53.2.1(5)(e):

(e) . . .nothing communicated   during the mediation process . . . shall be placed in evidence, made known to   the trial court or jury, or construed for any purpose as an admission . . .

And E.D. Va. Local   Rule 83.6(E) (emphasis added):

(E) The substance of communication   in the mediation process shall not be disclosed to any person other than participants   in the mediation process; provided, however, that nothing herein shall modify   the application of Federal Rule of Evidence 408 nor shall use in the mediation   process of an otherwise admissible document, object or statement preclude its   use at trial.

 

Slides 40 - 41:   Interpretations of Confidentiality Vary Widely

  •  
  • Courts may rely on local     rules for confidentiality decisions
        See, e.g., In re Anonymous, 283 F.3d 627, fn. 16 (4th Cir. 2002).
  •  
  • Other courts have found     a "compelling justification" to recognize a new federal common     law "mediation privilege"
        See, e.g., Hays v. Equitex, Inc. (In re RDM Sports Group, Inc.),     277 B.R. 415 (Bankr. N.D. Ga, 2002).
  •  

     

Slides 42 - 44:   Emerging Issues in ADR Confidentiality

  •  
  • Trend toward use of     multiple neutrals in same action/dispute
  •  
  • Trend toward use of neutrals     from within federal agencies
  •  

     

Slides 45 - 47:   Contracting for Additional Confidentiality Protections

  •  
  • Prevent disclosure of     communications not protected by statute (Example: 574.b.7)
  •  
  • Allow neutral to disclose     certain communications, with neutral's OK
  •  

     

Slides 48 - 50:   Contracting for Additional Confidentiality Protections

  •  
  • No protections for communications     not otherwise protected by statute / FOIA
  •  
  • Remedy for disclosures     under contract law
  •  

     

Slides 51 - 54:   Tensions with Other Authorities

  •  
  • Statutory right to access     information    
    •      
    • Inspector General         Act
    •      
    • Whistleblower Act         (OSC)
    •    
     
  •  
  • Union right to access     to meetings
  •  
  • Agency policy requiring     disclosure

 

Slides 55 - 56:   Effect of Records Retention Requirements

  •  
  • Records created during     a DR proceeding, though required to be retained, must be protected from disclosure     in violation of ADR Act    
    •      
    • by Agency staff         as "party"
    •      
    • by Agency staff         serving as neutral
    •    

 

Slides 57 - 59:   Evaluation of ADR Processes

  •  
  • Some programs have an     evaluation system in place for ADR processes
  •  
  • Designed to provide     information for improving ADR services
  •  
  • Should ensure anonymity     of information providers