(a) The chairperson of the judicial district bar fee dispute committee will assign the case to a facilitator who will conduct a settlement conference. The facilitator is responsible for arranging the settlement conference at a time and place convenient to all parties.
(b) The lawyer who is named in the petition must attend the settlement conference in person and may not send a representative in his or her place. If a party fails to attend a settlement conference without good cause, the facilitator may either reschedule the settlement conference or recommend dismissal of the petition.
(c) The facilitator must at all times be in control of the settlement conference and the procedures to be followed. The facilitator may communicate privately with any participant prior to and during the settlement conference. Any private communication with a participant will be disclosed to all other participants at the beginning of the settlement conference or, if the private communication occurs during the settlement conference, immediately after the private communication occurs. The facilitator will explain the following at the beginning of the settlement conference:
(1) the procedure that will be followed;
(2) the differences between a facilitated settlement conference and other forms of conflict resolution;
(3) that the settlement conference is not a trial;
(4) that the facilitator is not a judge;
(5) that participation in the settlement conference does not deprive the parties of any right they would otherwise have to pursue resolution of the dispute through the court system if they do not reach a settlement;
(6) the circumstances under which the facilitator may meet and communicate privately with any of the parties or with any other person;
(7) whether and under what conditions communications with the facilitator will be held in confidence during the settlement conference;
(8) that any agreement reached will be reached by mutual consent; and
(9) that, if the parties reach an agreement, that agreement will be reduced to writing and signed by the parties and their counsel, if any, before the parties leave the settlement conference.
(d) The facilitator has a duty to be impartial and to advise all participants of any circumstance that might cause either party to conclude that the facilitator has a possible bias, prejudice, or partiality.
(e) It is the duty of the facilitator to timely determine when the dispute cannot be resolved by settlement and to declare that an impasse exists and that the settlement conference should end.
History Note: Statutory Authority G.S. 84-23
Adopted March 11, 2010