Launch of landmark global conference series on the future of dispute resolution

Herbert Smith Freehills is pleased to announce the launch of The Global Pound Conference (GPC) Series 2016-17.

The aim of this ambitious worldwide conference series is to build a global conversation about the current landscape of civil and commercial dispute resolution and how dispute resolution tools and institutions should respond to the needs of 21st century business.  In particular, it aims to gather standardised and actionable data on what users of dispute resolution mechanisms need and want and whether those needs are being met.

Over 25 countries worldwide have already committed to holding a GPC event, with more being added. The launch will take place at a two-day conference in Singapore on 17-18 March 2016 and the last event is scheduled to be held in London in July 2017.  Other cities will include Hong Kong, Paris, Dubai, Madrid, Sydney, New York and Frankfurt/Berlin.

The Series, which is being led by the International Mediation Institute (IMI), is being sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills as well as other global partners: Shell,  AkzoNobel, the Beijing Arbitration Commission (BAC),  JAMS, and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR). 

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Superstorm Sandy litigation ruling on hold pending parallel mediation

By way of update to our previous report on 8 May 2013 , on 12 August 2014 the New York federal court managing the consolidated Superstorm Sandy insurance litigation deferred ruling on a crucial insurance issue pending the outcome of mediation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the US agency generally tasked with coordinating disaster response at the federal level.

The more than US$50 billion in property devastation wreaked by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 has been the subject of both litigation and mediation. An important issue in the insurance litigation is the validity of “placeholder” proofs of loss, which essentially are policyholders’ generalized estimates of loss based on an average of flood-related damage across all properties affected by the storm. FEMA considers such placeholder proofs of loss as incompatible with the Standard Flood Insurance Policy, which requires specific proof of the actual damage sustained that would permit an insurer to resolve a claim without court intervention. FEMA thus requested that the court dismiss all of the claims of plaintiffs who have not submitted actual proof of their loss.

Running parallel with the litigation, FEMA also has elected to permit private insurers that administer flood policies to request waivers of the strict requirements of the Standard Flood Insurance Policy in appropriate case-specific circumstances, and to participate in mediation of these cases. Recognizing FEMA’s and the insurers’ commitment to engage in good faith negotiations to resolve the claims through mediation, a federal magistrate judge overseeing the litigation deferred issuing a ruling on the validity of placeholder proofs of loss until the mediations conclude.

New York state court green-lights mandatory mediation pilot programme

As we previously reported (here), the New York Supreme Court Commercial Division (a Manhattan-based division of the state court of first instance that exclusively hears complex commercial cases) has been considering a proposal for mandatory mediation.

The proposal has now been adopted and the 18 month pilot programme becomes effective on 28 July 2014, at which time one in every five cases filed in the Commercial Division will be subject to mandatory mediation. Continue reading

Mandatory mediation pilot proposed for New York state court

An advisory committee has recommended that the New York Supreme Court (the state court of first instance located in Manhattan) adopt a pilot programme for mandatory mediation in its Commercial Division, which exclusively hears complex commercial cases.

While other New York courts have instituted limited mandatory mediation programmes (such as the Brooklyn programme about which we previously reported, which only applies to transit cases), this proposed programme is the most expansive to be considered to date.   Part of the rationale for proposing mandatory mediation in the Commercial Division is that mediation is underutilised there, and highly congested courts detract from New York’s stature as a desirable place to conduct business in an increasingly competitive global economy. Continue reading

Brooklyn test program requires mediation in certain civil cases

The first instance state court in Brooklyn (Kings County) recently initiated a test program requiring civil cases to be mediated before proceeding to trial. The goal of the program is to alleviate some of the time and financial costs that civil litigation places on Brooklyn’s court system, which is burdened by over 50,000 cases at the trial court level.  The program will initially only apply to cases involving the Metropolitan Transit Authority of the State of New York, a provider of public transportation.   The mediators will be selected from a group of volunteers who will not be compensated.  Mediation in these test cases will commence after discovery is complete and prior to the calendaring of a trial date.  The court intends to extend this program, if successful, to a wide variety of civil cases. For further information please contact Allison Alcasabas or Annemarie Jones in our New York office.

Super Storm Sandy: New York’s Mediation Program Commences

In the wake of Super Storm Sandy, which caused devastation to parts of New York and surrounding areas on 29 October 2012, the New York Department of Financial Services has established a voluntary mediation process to resolve denied, disputed, or delayed insurance claims.  The first mediation sessions took place on 10 April 2013.  The program handles disputed real and personal property claims (excluding damage to motor vehicles) that arose between 26 October 2012 and 15 November 2012 in various New York State counties, including those in New York City, Long Island and Westchester.  (Claims made under the National Flood Insurance Program, which is administered by the US government, are not eligible.)   The Superintendent of Financial Services has designated the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to administer the mediation program.  The insurer will bear the AAA’s administration costs and the mediator’s compensation for the two-hour mediation session.  Both the claimant and the insurer are required to sign a confidentiality statement.  The parties may agree that the mediation be conducted in person, by video conference, or by telephone conference.

Allison Alcasabas
Allison Alcasabas
Partner, dispute resolution, New York
+1 212 519 9861
Annemarie Jones
Annemarie Jones
Associate, dispute resolution, New York
+1 212 519 9870

New Texas Rule for Expedited Civil Actions

In February of 2013, the Supreme Court of Texas issued Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 169, which designs a streamlined and expedited trial process for cases valued below $100,000 (excluding actions under the Family Code, Property Code, or Tax Code).  It applies to cases filed after 1 March 2013. Continue reading

Rhode Island Pension Law referred to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

A new law in the state of Rhode Island overhauling its pension plan is the focus of a dispute between the State and five public sector unions representing police, firefighters, teachers, and other government employees.  The mediation will be handled by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Allison Alcasabas (partner) and Annemarie Jones (associate) from our New York office report on this development. Continue reading

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director Instrumental in National Hockey League Deal

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (“FMCS”) and its Deputy Director, Scot L. Beckenbaugh, were instrumental in resolving the recent dispute between the National Hockey League (“NHL”) and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (“NHLPA”). The dispute arose in July 2012 when the NHL and NHLPA began discussing a new collective bargaining agreement.  The dispute hinged, amongst other things, on setting the players’ 2013-2014 salary cap, determining the maximum length of players’ contracts, amending free agency rules, and resolving issues relating to the pension plan.  FMCS became involved in the dispute in November 2012. Allison Alcasabas (partner) and Annemarie Jones (associate) from our New York office report on this development. Continue reading

USA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration Announces ADR Pilot Programme for Whistleblower Complaints

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is part of the United States Department of Labor, has announced that it is implementing an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) pilot programme for certain whistleblower complaints.   OSHA’s mission is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” Continue reading