18 CFR § 385.606 - Confidentiality in dispute resolution proceedings (Rule 606).

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§ 385.606 Confidentiality in dispute resolution proceedings (Rule 606).

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section, a neutral in a dispute resolution proceeding shall not voluntarily disclose, or through discovery or compulsory process be required to disclose, any information concerning any dispute resolution communication or any communication provided in confidence to the neutral, unless:

(1) All participants in the dispute resolution proceeding and the neutral consent in writing;

(2) The dispute resolution communication has otherwise already been made public;

(3) The dispute resolution communication is required by statute to be made public, but a neutral should make the communication public only if no other person is reasonably available to disclose the communication; or

(4) A court determines that the testimony or disclosure is necessary to:

(i) Prevent a manifest injustice;

(ii) Help establish a violation of law; or

(iii) Prevent harm to the public health or safety of sufficient magnitude in the particular case to outweigh the integrity of dispute resolution proceedings in general by reducing the confidence of participants in future cases that their communications will remain confidential.

(b) A participant in a dispute resolution proceeding shall not voluntarily disclose, or through discovery or compulsory process be required to disclose, any information concerning any dispute resolution communication, unless:

(1) All participants to the dispute resolution proceeding consent in writing;

(2) The dispute resolution communication has otherwise already been made public;

(3) The dispute resolution communication is required by statute to be made public;

(4) A court determines that the testimony or disclosure is necessary to:

(i) Prevent a manifest injustice;

(ii) Help establish a violation of law; or

(iii) Prevent harm to the public health and safety of sufficient magnitude in the particular case to outweigh the integrity of dispute resolution proceedings in general by reducing the confidence of participants in future cases that their communications will remain confidential; or

(5) The dispute resolution communication is relevant to determining the existence or meaning of an agreement or award that resulted from the dispute resolution proceeding or to the enforcement of the agreement or award.

(c) Any dispute resolution communication that is disclosed in violation of paragraphs (a) or (b) of this section shall not be admissible in any proceeding.

(d)

(1) The participants may agree to alternative confidential procedures for disclosures by a neutral. The participants must inform the neutral before the commencement of the dispute resolution proceeding of any modifications to the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section that will govern the confidentiality of the dispute resolution proceeding. If the participants do not so inform the neutral, paragraph (a) of this section shall apply.

(2) To qualify for the exemption established under paragraph (l) of this section, an alternative confidential procedure under this paragraph may not provide for less disclosure than confidential procedures otherwise provided under this rule.

(e) If a demand for disclosure, by way of discovery request or other legal process, is made upon a participant regarding a dispute resolution communication, the participant will make reasonable efforts to notify the neutral and the other participants of the demand. Any participant who receives the notice and within 15 calendar days does not offer to defend a refusal of the neutral to disclose the requested information waives any objection to the disclosure.

(f) Nothing in Rule 606 prevents the discovery or admissibility of any evidence that is otherwise discoverable, merely because the evidence was presented in the course of a dispute resolution proceeding.

(g) Paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section do not preclude disclosure of information and data that are necessary to document an agreement reached or order issued pursuant to a dispute resolution proceeding.

(h) Paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section do not prevent the gathering of information for research and educational purposes, in cooperation with other agencies, governmental entities, or dispute resolution programs, so long as the participants and the specific issues in controversy are not identifiable.

(i) Paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section do not prevent use of a dispute resolution communication to resolve a dispute between the neutral in a dispute resolution proceeding and a participant in the proceeding, so long as the communication is disclosed only to the extent necessary to resolve the dispute.

(j) Nothing in this section precludes parties from seeking privileged treatment for documents under this chapter.

(k) Where disclosure is authorized by this section, nothing in this section precludes use of a protective agreement or protective orders.

(l) A dispute resolution communication that may not be disclosed under this rule shall also be exempt from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3).

[Order 578, 60 FR 19508, Apr. 19, 1995, as amended by Order 602, 64 FR 17099, Apr. 8, 1999; Order 769, 77 FR 65476, Oct. 29, 2012]