WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a longstanding tradition of support of alternate methods of dispute resolution to preserve the court system for disputes that truly need resolution by judge or judge and jury; and

WHEREAS, Philadelphia has been a national leader in innovative ways to streamline and facilitate the justice system; and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania has lagged behind other states in its institutional support for mediation, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) techniques; and

WHEREAS, when properly used, ADR can provide significant cost savings for both the Court system and litigants and result in more satisfactory resolution of disputes; and

WHEREAS, many novel and effective ADR programs are working successfully in parts of Pennsylvania but there is no mechanism to expand their use into other areas of the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, the Advisory Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution of the Joint State Government Commission (the “Advisory Committee”), with leadership from several Philadelphia Bar Association members, has issued a report1 (the “Report”) recommending legislation for the creation of a statewide “Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission” (the “ADR Commission”);2 and

WHEREAS, the Advisory Committee concluded that a properly funded statewide office, similar to those in other states, would encourage and oversee the use of effective ADR modalities to make better use of the justice system; and

WHEREAS, among other things, the ADR Commission would encourage and facilitate the development, use, coordination, support and evaluation of high-quality affordable alternative dispute resolution programs and services, including education, training and research about alternative dispute resolution, and

WHEREAS, the ADR Commission would be able to recommend improvements in alternative dispute resolution programs and services, and

WHEREAS, the ADR Commission could coordinate efforts of the judiciary, bar, legislature, executive, and other entities affected by ADR programs; and

WHEREAS, the recommendation of the Advisory Committee was to establish the ADR Commission as a fully-funded, independent agency within the Executive Branch of Pennsylvania government and that the Commission be governed by a Board of Directors appointed by a broad range of governmental and non-governmental agencies; and

WHEREAS, the ADR Commission would address ADR programs outside, as well as inside, the Judicial Branch of Pennsylvania government; and, therefore, would be separately funding outside the courts’ budgets; and

WHEREAS, there would be substantial input from the Judicial Branch as many of those on the ADR Commission’s Board of Directors would be appointed by the Chief Justice; and

WHEREAS, the Advisory Committee proposed legislation to add a Chapter 75 to 44 Pa.C.S. (Law and Justice) to be titled “Pennsylvania Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission,” which would create the “Pennsylvania Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission” under what would be 44 Pa.C.S. § 7502.3

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association calls on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to establish a statewide, properly funded alternative dispute resolution commission and to enact the suggested Chapter 75 to 44 Pa.C.S., or a similar statute.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor or the Chancellor's designee to communicate the content of this resolution to members of the General Assembly, the Governor, state and local public officials, other bar associations, and the public at large, and to take such other action as may be appropriate.

ADOPTED: September 28, 2017


2 Report at 1.

3 Report at 10.