by Tabitha S. Fish, Esq., Associate, Saxon, Gilmore, Carraway & Gibbons, P.A.
Parties engaged in mediation in Florida should be aware of a recent and important change to the landscape of Florida mediation. The Florida Supreme Court has recently modified the rules pertaining to mediation representatives, clarifying the requirements for party representatives attending mediation. Effective January 1, 2012, generally, all parties ordered to mediation are required to have a representative in attendance at mediation (i) who is the final decision maker with respect to all issues in the case, and (ii) who has the authority to enter into a binding settlement agreement. This rule is subject to a limited exception, whereby representatives of public entities must have full authority (i) to negotiate on behalf of the public entity, and (ii) to recommend settlement to the appropriate decision-making body. However, the term public entity may have limited application and, accordingly, you should discuss the matter with an attorney prior to relying on this exception. Both public and non-public entities are now required, prior to the mediation, to file a certification of authority, which must identify the representative who will be in attendance at the mediation and certify his or her authority as required by the new rules. Under certain circumstances, sanctions may be imposed where the certification is not filed or where the person identified fails to appear at the mediation. If any of your cases pending in Florida are referred to mediation, please feel free to call us to discuss the potential ramifications of these changes and to ensure compliance with the new rules.
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