47 CFR § 1.244 - Designation of a settlement officer.

§ 1.244 Designation of a settlement officer.

(a) Parties may request that the presiding officer appoint a settlement officer to facilitate the resolution of the case by settlement.

(b) Where all parties in a case agree that such procedures may be beneficial, such requests may be filed with the presiding officer no later than 15 days prior to the date scheduled for the commencement of hearings or, in hearing proceedings conducted pursuant to §§ 1.370 through 1.377, no later than 15 days before the date set as the deadline for filing the affirmative case. The presiding officer shall suspend the procedural dates in the case pending action upon such requests.

(c) If, in the discretion of the presiding officer, it appears that the appointment of a settlement officer will facilitate the settlement of the case, the presiding officer shall appoint a “neutral” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 571 and 573 to act as the settlement officer.

(1) The parties may request the appointment of a settlement officer of their own choosing so long as that person is a “neutral” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 571 and 573.

(2) The appointment of a settlement officer in a particular case is subject to the approval of all the parties in the proceeding.

(3) Neither the Commission, nor any sitting members of the Commission, nor the presiding officer shall serve as the settlement officer in any case.

(4) Other members of the Commission's staff who qualify as neutrals may be appointed as settlement officers. The presiding officer shall not appoint a member of the Commission's staff as a settlement officer in any case if the staff member's duties include, or have included, drafting, reviewing, and/or recommending actions on the merits of the issues designated for hearing in that case.

(d) The settlement officer shall have the authority to require parties to submit their written direct cases for review. The settlement officer may also meet with the parties and/or their counsel, individually and/or at joint conferences, to discuss their cases and the cases of their competitors. All such meetings will be off-the-record, and the settlement officer may express an opinion as to the relative merit of the parties' positions and recommend possible means to resolve the proceeding by settlement. The proceedings before the settlement officer shall be subject to the confidentiality provisions of 5 U.S.C. 574. Moreover, no statements, offers of settlement, representations or concessions of the parties or opinions expressed by the settlement officer will be admissible as evidence in any Commission proceeding.

[85 FR 63176, Oct. 6, 2020]