18 CFR § 385.604 - Alternative means of dispute resolution (Rule 604).

§ 385.604 Alternative means of dispute resolution (Rule 604).

(a)Applicability.

(1)Participants may, subject to the limitations of paragraph (a)(2) of this section, use alternative means of dispute resolution to resolve all or part of any pending matter if the participants agree. The alternative means of dispute resolution authorized under subpart F of this part will be voluntary procedures that supplement rather than limit other available dispute resolution techniques.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, the decisional authority will not consent to use of an alternative dispute resolution proceeding if:

(i) A definitive or authoritative resolution of the matter is required for precedential value;

(ii) The matter involves or may bear upon significant questions of policy that require additional procedures before a final resolution may be made, and the proceeding would not likely serve to develop a recommended policy;

(iii) Maintaining established policies is of special importance;

(iv) The matter significantly affects persons or organizations who are not parties to the proceeding;

(v) A full public record of the proceeding is important, and a dispute resolution proceeding cannot provide a record; or

(vi) The Commission must maintain continuing jurisdiction over the matter with authority to alter the disposition of the matter in the light of changed circumstances, and a dispute resolution proceeding would interfere with the Commission's fulfilling that requirement.

(3) If one or more of the factors outlined in paragraph (a)(2) of this section is present, alternative dispute resolution may nevertheless be used if the alternative dispute resolution proceeding can be structured to avoid the identified factor or if other concerns significantly outweigh the identified factor.

(4) A determination to use or not to use a dispute resolution proceeding under subpart F of this part is not subject to judicial review.

(5) Settlement agreements reached through the use of alternative dispute resolution pursuant to subpart F of this part will be subject to the provisions of Rule 602, unless the decisional authority, upon motion or otherwise, orders a different procedure.

(b)Definitions. For the purposes of subpart F of this part:

(1)Alternative means of dispute resolution means any procedure that is used, in lieu of an adjudication, to resolve issues in controversy, including but not limited to, settlement negotiations, conciliation, facilitation, mediation, factfinding, minitrials, and arbitration, or any combination thereof;

(2)Award means any decision by an arbitrator resolving the issues in controversy;

(3)Dispute resolution communication means any oral or written communication prepared for the purposes of a dispute resolution proceeding, including any memoranda, notes or work product of the neutral, parties or non-party participant. A written agreement to enter into a dispute resolution proceeding, or a final written agreement or arbitral award reached as a result of a dispute resolution proceeding, is not a dispute resolution communication;

(4)Dispute resolution proceeding means any alternative means of dispute resolution that is used to resolve an issue in controversy in which a neutral may be appointed and specified parties participate;

(5)In confidence means information is provided:

(i) With the expressed intent of the source that it not be disclosed, or

(ii) Under circumstances that create a reasonable expectation on behalf of the source that the information will not be disclosed;

(6)Issue in controversy means an issue which is or is anticipated to be material to a decision in a proceeding before the Commission and which is the subject of disagreement between participants who would be substantially affected by the decision or between the Commission and any such participants;

(7)Neutral means an individual who, with respect to an issue in controversy, functions specifically to aid the parties in resolving the controversy;

(8)Participants in a dispute resolution proceeding that is used to resolve an issue in controversy in a proceeding involving an application for a license or exemption to construct, operate, and maintain a hydroelectric project pursuant to the Federal Power Act or the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act shall include such state and federal agencies and Indian tribes as have statutory roles or a direct interest in such hydroelectric proceedings.

(c)Neutrals.

(1) A neutral may be a permanent or temporary officer or employee of the Federal Government (including an administrative law judge), or any other individual who is acceptable to the participants to a dispute resolution proceeding. A neutral must have no official, financial, or personal conflict of interest with respect to the issues in controversy, except that a neutral who is not a government employee may serve if the interest is fully disclosed in writing to all participants and all participants agree.

(2) A neutral serves at the will of the participants, unless otherwise provided.

(3)Neutrals may be selected from among the Commission's administrative law judges or other employees, from rosters kept by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Administrative Conference of the United States, the American Arbitration Association, or from any other source.

(d)Submission of proposal to use alternative means of dispute resolution.

(1) The participants may at any time submit a written proposal to use alternative means of dispute resolution to resolve all or part of any matter in controversy or anticipated to be in controversy before the Commission.

(2) For matters set for hearing under subpart E of this part, a proposal to use alternative means of dispute resolution must be filed with the presiding administrative law judge.

(3) For all other matters, a proposal to use alternative means of dispute resolution may be filed with the Secretary for consideration by the appropriate decisional authority.

(4) The appropriate decisional authority will issue an order, approving or denying, under the guidelines in Rule 604(a) (2) and (3), a proposal to use alternative means of dispute resolution. Denial of a proposal to use alternative dispute resolution will be in the form of an order and will identify the specific reasons for the denial. A proposal to use alternative dispute resolution is deemed approved unless an order denying approval is issued within 30 days after the proposal is filed.

(5) Any request to modify a previously-approved ADR proposal must follow the same procedure used for the initial approval.

(e)Contents of proposal. A proposal to use alternative means of dispute resolution must be in writing and include:

(1) A general identification of the issues in controversy intended to be resolved by the proposed alternative dispute resolution method,

(2) A description of the alternative dispute resolution method(s) to be used,

(3) The signatures of all participants or evidence otherwise indicating the consent of all participants; and

(4) A certificate of service pursuant to Rule 2010(h).

(f)Monitoring the alternative dispute resolution proceeding. The decisional authority may order reports on the status of the alternative dispute resolution proceeding at any time.

[Order 578, 60 FR 19506, Apr. 19, 1995, as amended by Order 602, 64 FR 17099, Apr. 8, 1999]