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PDFWAC 463-30-251

Alternative dispute resolution.

The council supports parties' informal efforts to resolve disputes when doing so is lawful and consistent with the public interest. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) includes any mechanism to resolve disagreements, in whole or in part.
(1) Forms of ADR. Parties may agree to negotiate with other parties at any time without council oversight. The council may direct parties to meet or consult as provided in subsection (2) of this section, or may establish or approve a collaborative process as provided in subsection (3) of this section. The council may assign a mediator or facilitator to assist the parties. The council may also assign an arbitrator whose decision is subject to council review.
(2) Settlement conference. The council may invite or direct the parties to confer among themselves or with a designated person. Settlement conferences must be informal and without prejudice to the rights of the parties.
(3) Collaborative.
(a) Defined; membership. A collaborative is a form of ADR and is a council-sanctioned negotiation in which interested parties work with each other and representatives of council staff to achieve consensus on one or more issues assigned by the council or identified by the collaborative participants. Any interested party whose interests may be substantially affected by the result of the collaborative must be given an opportunity to participate. Collaborative participants must inform the council and seek approval if a collaborative changes its membership or redefines the issues it will address.
(b) Communication with council. Communication between the council and collaborative participants may be through council staff assigned to serve as a third party neutral in the collaborative, or through the council manager, subject to agreement among the participants to the form and substance of any such communication.
(4) ADR guidelines. In any ADR process, the following apply unless all participants agree otherwise:
(a) The parties, as their first joint act, will consider any guidelines or directions by the council, and determine the ground rules governing the negotiations;
(b) No statement, admission or offer of settlement made during negotiations is admissible in evidence in any formal hearing before the council without the consent of the participants or unless necessary to address the process of the negotiations;
(c) To the extent permitted by law, parties may agree that information exchanged exclusively within the context of settlement negotiations will be treated as confidential as provided in a council protective order; and
(d) Participants in a council-sanctioned ADR process must periodically advise any nonparticipating parties and the council of any substantial progress made toward settlement. Participants must immediately advise the council if a council-sanctioned ADR process is without substantial prospects of resolving the issue or issues under negotiation.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 80.50.040 (1) and (12). WSR 04-21-013, ยง 463-30-251, filed 10/11/04, effective 11/11/04.]
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