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The 189th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 19: Mandatory alternative dispute resolution program

Section 19. The chief justice of the trial court may establish and promulgate rules for a mandatory alternative dispute resolution program for civil actions within the trial court subject to the approval of the supreme judicial court, subject to appropriation; provided, however, that the parties to a dispute resolution shall not be bound by the results thereof. The chief justice for administration and management shall supervise and establish standards for the implementation of such program and shall further implement a program of certification for all personnel conducting alternative dispute resolution programs in the courts of the commonwealth.

The chief justice of the trial court shall establish a pilot program of alternative dispute resolution within the counties of Bristol, Worcester and Suffolk under his direct supervision. Pursuant to said pilot program, he shall be responsible to fund, coordinate, and evaluate activities of the trial court within said counties to screen and refer cases to alternative dispute resolution. Within said counties, the chief justice for administration and management shall, no later than twelve months from the date of filing any civil litigation which involves a contract claim, tort claim, equitable remedy dispute or other litigation the trial court may determine to be appropriate, be screened for referral to a qualified alternative dispute resolution program. Screening should enable litigants or their attorneys to select among options which include self-directed settlement negotiation, case evaluation, mediation, non-binding arbitration, expert fact finding and binding arbitration. The chief justice of the trial court shall monitor and evaluate the cost, impact and effectiveness of activities undertaken to screen and refer cases to alternative dispute resolution and report annually to the general court on his findings. The annual report should identify unmet needs and promising opportunities for additional screening and referral activities and recommend legislative actions required to implement these activities.