Today, the Pennsylvania Senate passed State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf’s (R, 12) SB 1132 creating an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Commission to expand the use of legal mediation services in Pennsylvania as an alternative to taking certain civil disputes to trial.
Backed up caseloads, a shortage of judges, and the high cost of litigation has led to an expansion of ADR in many states. Also known as mediation, ADR is a voluntary and relatively informal process that allows parties to address their needs better than litigation, resulting in substantial cost savings.
“Having practiced law for over fifty years, I have seen many business and labor disputes, consumer cases, and conflicts in every institutional setting that could have been better addressed through ADR in a more timely and cost-effective manner than running their course through the judicial system,” said Senator Greenleaf. “I want to make wider use of ADR in Pennsylvania in order to save scarce public resources during a time when courts are seeking additional funding. Increased use of ADR will ease the burden on the courts by allowing them to focus on matters that truly require litigation.”
The legislation incorporates the findings of a 2017 Joint State Government Commission analysis of dispute resolution services in Pennsylvania. The Advisory Committee’s principal recommendation is for the Commonwealth to establish an Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission to facilitate the development of ADR programs in the state, including education, training, and research about ADR. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Governor, and the General Assembly would appoint a 17 member board of directors to manage the commission. The General Assembly would appropriate funds for the operation of the commission.
The Philadelphia Bar Association and the Bucks County Bar Association have adopted resolutions supporting the creation of a statewide Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.
SB 1132 will now be considered by the House of Representatives.