The year 1992 was notable for many reasons, not the least of which was the institution of Alabama's Civil Court Mediation Rules. As the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the rules approaches, UWWM Principal Rodney A. Max shared some history on how this part of the state's rules of civil procedure came to be.
“Historically, in 1988, I was asked to be the Chairman of the Alabama Bar Association Committee on Alternatives to Dispute Resolution," Mr. Max said. "Among our agenda items was the establishment of rules for mediation."
He began by reviewing and analyzing the existing Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure and compared them to other rules around the country. "I noted that there was an area in Rule 16 that identified 'extrajudicial' considerations to resolve disputes (Subsection (c)(7)). I decided that that was the appropriate place to insert an addendum of mediation rules and procedures that thereafter became the Alabama Civil Court Mediation Rules."
Mr. Max drafted 15 rules aimed at self-determination, confidentiality, and the neutrality and authority of the mediator. They prescribed the characteristics of a mediation, including the absence of a record and how a mediator should charge and collect fees, expenses and deposits.
"After receiving acquiescence from the ADR committee of the Alabama Bar Association and various trial sections of the bar, I presented the rules to the Alabama Supreme Court," Mr. Max said. "They were ultimately adopted on Aug. 1, 1992.”
Since then, mediation practices have grown significantly in the state, and the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution most recently reported 115,451 cases mediated from 1997 through 2020 with 91,765 settled for a settlement rate of 79.5 percent. The center is due to report figures through 2021 in June.