Alternative Dispute Resolution Bureau

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The Alternative Dispute Resolution Bureau (Bureau) is the administrative office that implements the Judicial Branch public policy regarding alternative dispute resolution. This office certifies private professionals to occasionally render services to the Judicial Branch to act as private neutral intervenors. It also certifies service providers offering training in alternative dispute resolution for the Judicial Branch. The Bureau also provides technical and administrative oversight for the Conflict Mediation Centers, which provide services to the court and to the community.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The court may, on its own initiative or at the request of a party, refer a case to alternative dispute resolution. The Rules for Alternative Dispute Resolution recognize mediation, neutral case evaluation, and arbitration as alternative methods.

What is Mediation?

A process in which a neutral intervenor, known as a mediator, facilitates negotiation between the disputing parties to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. The Conflict Mediation Centers offer mediation as an alternative method available in the courthouse and free of charge.

What Are the Advantages of Mediation?

Mediation is a constructive way of settling many of the disputes that are part of our daily lives. Its purpose is to encourage people to participate in resolving their conflicts and to encourage the parties involved to take responsibility for fulfilling their agreements.

The following are some of the advantages of mediation:

  • It is provided free of charge by the Judicial Branch.
  • Sessions are private, and information is confidential.
  • It is a quick and informal process.
  • Promotes respect, cooperation, and communication.
  • Encourages participation and decision making.
What is a Neutral Case Evaluation?

It is a process in which a neutral intervenor, known as an evaluator, receives a summary of the legal theories and of the evidence submitted by each party in the dispute. Once the summaries are submitted, the evaluator reviews the information and offers an opinion to the parties regarding the matter.

What is Arbitration?

It is an informal adjudicative process in which a neutral intervenor, known as an arbitrator, receives evidence from the disputing parties, evaluates it, and issues a decision, known as an award.

Who Can Provide Alternative Dispute Resolution?

The court may refer a case to alternative dispute resolution provided by:

  • the Judicial Branch of Puerto Rico
  • a state or federal agency that provides such services
  • a private entity that provides such services
  • a private neutral intervenor certified by the Bureau
  • a non-certified private neutral intervenor selected by mutual agreement of the parties.

Neutral Intervenors

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The Alternative Dispute Resolution Bureau certifies private neutral intervenors who are interested in providing occasional services to the Judicial Branch. The following information describes the types of certifications issued by the Bureau and the application process.

What is a Neutral Intervenor?

An impartial person who takes part in the alternative dispute resolution process to guide and assist the parties in settling their disputes. Their role varies depending on the alternative dispute resolution method: arbitration, mediation, or neutral evaluation.

You can obtain information regarding the process to appoint neutral intervenors, their general duties, training, and compensation for their services in Chapter 4 of the Rules for Alternative Dispute Resolution. This chapter also provides information on the process for recusing or disqualifying neutral intervenors, immunity from civil claims, and communications between intervenors and the court.

What Does Certification Entail?

A certification is the result of having complied with the Certification and Continuing Education Rules for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Certification is what allows for a roster of qualified persons to offer services through one or more methods pursuant to the rules adopted by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico, Is It Required to be Certified as a Neutral Mediator, Arbitrator, or Evaluator?

Certification is not required in Puerto Rico. A person may offer their services in Puerto Rico as an arbitrator, neutral evaluator, or mediator without being certified. There is also no licensing requirement. However, in Puerto Rico, as in some states in the United States, certification is required in order to appear in a roster or registry of arbitrators, mediators, or neutral evaluators.

What Types of Certifications Does the Judicial Branch Issue?

Currently, the Judicial Branch issues four types of certifications: Arbitrator, Mediator, Neutral Evaluator, and Service Provider. The first three certifications have several requirements in common, in addition to requirements that are specific to the particular method. You can review these requirements in the Certification and Continuing Education Rules for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Can I Apply for More than One Certification?

Yes. You may apply for more than one certification at the same time if you meet the general and specific requirements for each one.

Does the Bureau Certify Service Institutions or Practice Centers Where the Court May Refer Cases?

No. Currently, the certification of public or private organizations is granted so that such organizations can provide training services for for the purpose of obtaining a certificate or continuing education. There are no certifications for organizations to serve as arbitrators, mediators, or neutral evaluators or as practice or service centers.

Is There Reciprocity with Similar Certifications in the United States or Other Countries?

Since there are no uniform standards in the United States, Canada, and other countries for the issuance of certifications or licenses in the areas of mediation, arbitration, or neutral evaluation that allow for equivalency of training and experience, it is not possible to assign standard equivalencies. However, the Certification and Continuing Education Rules for Alternative Dispute Resolution provides an exemption to consider particular situations where an applicant’s experience and qualifications are exceptional. The evaluation of an exemption is unique for each individual.

Training Service Providers

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Training and continuing education service providers are individuals or institutions that meet the Bureau’s minimum training program requirements. The Bureau may approve proposals for training programs or continuing education courses on alternative dispute resolution methods that meet the educational criteria according to the type of the neutral intervenor certification. Pursuant to the specific certification, such persons will assume certain duties and responsibilities with the Bureau.

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining as a Service Provider Certification?

For information on the requirements to be certified as a provider, please review the Certification and Continuing Education Rules for Alternative Dispute Resolution. To apply for certification as a training service provider, visit the Alternative Dispute Resolution section in Forms.