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“Certification of Authority:”Amendments to Rule 1.720, Fla. R. Civ. P.

Redefining “Attendance” and “Authority.”

Since the opinion was published there has been a lot of discussion with respect to the amendment to mediation procedures set forth in Rule 1.720, Fla. R. Civ. P, effective January 1, 2012. The amendment redefines party attendance/authority and significantly, requires that the parties file a “certification of authority,” 10 days prior to appearing at a mediation conference, identifying the person or persons who will be attending the mediation conference as a party representative or as an insurance carrier representative, and confirming that those persons have the authority required by the amended rule.

In the past I had advised parties concerned about these issues to ask for this information in advance of mediation and incorporate these details in the court’s order for mediation. Among other things, this amendment seems to affirmatively obligate the parties to address these issues in advance of mediation. Please note that the rule applies to all parties; attorneys representing entities rather than individuals obviously need to pay special attention to the particulars of compliance. Here’s the link to the opinion http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2011/sc10-2329.pdf .

Many are likely to weigh in on this topic. Authority has always been an important issue with respect to a successful mediation. UWWM mediators Larry Watson, Michelle Jernigan, and Sandy Upchurch are planning a presentation on this topic in January. Larry was directly involved in the evolution of these changes so the presentation should be a highly informative and helpful from the perspective of experienced mediators. Lawyers need to know and understand the new rule. I encourage you to attend if your schedule permits. While the date of this seminar has not as yet been confirmed, we expect that confirmation in the very near future. Please check our website for the posted date of the webinar.

Kimberly Sands
Upchurch Watson While & Max

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