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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 5, 2018 02:06 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pennsylvania Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission
I plan to introduce legislation that would establish a statewide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

By way of background, in 2006 the General Assembly adopted a concurrent resolution (SR 160) directing the
Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to create a bipartisan Task Force and an Advisory Committee to
perform a complete review of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services in Pennsylvania, to find best
practices, develop a plan to educate citizens about conflict resolution and ADR services, and propose legislation
that may be required to implement the proposed plan.

After an extensive review and study of the matter, the JSGC issued a report in June 2017 entitled “Alternative
Dispute Resolution in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution.” The
Advisory Committee’s principal recommendation is for the Commonwealth to establish an Alternative Dispute
Resolution Commission to help promote and oversee the development of ADR in Pennsylvania.

My legislation reflects the Advisory Committee’s recommendation and proposed draft legislation. Under the
proposal, the ADR Commission would encourage and facilitate the development and use of high-quality ADR
programs and services in the state, including education, training and research about ADR. The Advisory
Committee recommended that the ADR Commission be an executive agency because a large number of ADR
services take place outside the courts. A board of directors would manage the ADR Commission. The Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court, the Governor and the General Assembly would appoint members (17 in all) to the
board. The proposal requires the ARD Commission to issue an annual report to the Governor, the General
Assembly and the PA Supreme Court. The General Assembly would appropriate funds for the operation of the
ARD Commission.

The report indicates that ADR methods are being used to resolve a variety of disputes in every institutional setting and the most widespread form is mediation. It states “For many disputes, mediation and other voluntary and relatively informal ADR procedures may permit the parties to address their needs better than litigation.” The use of ADR over litigation can result in substantial savings.

The report further states “A central coordinating agency would help oversee ADR practice and spread promising
initiatives throughout the state. In most states where the use of ADR is more prevalent than in Pennsylvania,
institutional support has been provided by statewide entities that have promoted its sound development. Seeing
the effectiveness of these initiatives, the Advisory Committee overwhelmingly agrees that the establishment of the
ADR Commission as a statewide entity is needed to encourage and oversee the use of effective ADR modalities to achieve meaningful progress in the development and sound expansion of ADR.”

Finally, the Advisory Committee indicated that “Community mediation centers may benefit greatly from centralized coordination afforded by a statewide commission and savings that should result from the sharing of resources. The establishment of the ADR Commission would be especially vital in order to develop ADR for business and labor disputes, consumer cases, and many other cases that typically run their course entirely outside the judicial system.”

The increased use of ADR will ease the burden on the courts by focusing on matters that can best be
addressed via the judicial system while resolving disputes that do not require litigation in a more timely and cost effective manner. The Philadelphia Bar Association and the Bucks County Bar Association have adopted resolutions supporting the creation of a statewide Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.

Introduced as SB1132