JUDICIAL COURT ADOPTS QUALIFICATION STANDARDS
FOR NEUTRALS PROVIDING COURT-CONNECTED
DISPUTE RESOLUTION SERVICES
Boston — The
Supreme Judicial Court today announced that it has adopted
Rule 8 of the Uniform Rules of Dispute Resolution. The
rule sets forth qualification standards for neutrals who
provide court-connected dispute resolution services.
Adoption of Rule
8 completes the Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution; the Uniform Rules, with
the exception of Rule 8, became effective in February, 1999, and appear as Supreme
Judicial Court Rule 1:18.
study and collaboration, the Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution submitted
a proposed Rule 8 to the Supreme Judicial Court. Drafts of Rule 8 were published
for comment. The Standing Committee carefully considered all comments received,
and revised the draft rule to respond to concerns and suggestions raised by the
Chief Justice Marshall
stated, "The Standing Committee, chaired by Superior Court Judge John Cratsley,
committed significant time and energy to addressing some very important issues.
The Justices are most grateful to all the members of the Committee for their
dedication to improving our courts through court-connected ADR services."
Judge Cratsley stated: "I
am pleased that after years of deliberation, by two separate groups of Standing
Committee members, the Supreme Judicial Court has enacted a set of qualifications
standards which insure the quality of services offered by neutrals who do court-connected
The rule establishes
training, evaluation, mentoring, and continuing education and evaluation requirements
for seven categories of neutrals-mediators, arbitrators, case evaluators, conciliators,
mini-trial neutrals, summary jury trial neutrals, and dispute intervenors. It
also provides alternative methods for meeting the requirements, and a "grandfather" clause
that allows Trial Court Chief Justices to exercise a one-time option that would
exempt neutrals who meet certain requirements from the initial training requirements.
The alternative methods and the "grandfather" provisions recognize
that some neutrals, based on their previous experience, have already acquired
the necessary skills required by the qualification standards. The rule also provides
that professional licensure and academic degrees cannot be used by a program
or a court department as preclusive criteria in the selection of mediators and
arbitrators in court connected alternative dispute resolution.
The rule becomes
effective on January 1, 2005, except for the provisions applicable to dispute
intervention neutrals, who have a longer period of time to comply with the qualification
requirements. The new Rule 8 of the Uniform Rules of Dispute Resolution, can
be accessed on the court's web page at www.state.ma.us/courts/admin/legal/redbook8.html