Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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The problem with payment plans is that they are a nuisance to enforce. It seems that more often than not, the party that is supposed to make the payments at some point stops keeping up with its obligations, and the party to whom the payments are due has to take some action to get the payment plan back on track. Naturally, people at the time of entering into such arrangements usually want to avoid these problems. The debtor wants an agreement that they can perform, and the creditor wants the best enforcement tools available to make sure the payments are made. One common technique is to provide that in the event of default, judgment can be entered for an amount […]

Last night I had a chance to hear Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd discussing their new book A Sliver of Light, which recounts their two year ordeal of imprisonment in Iran. You might be more familiar with them the way they were usually characterized in the press as the “three American hikers.” They prefer to be thought of as hostages rather than hikers. In actuality, they were tourists visiting the Kurdish region of Iraq. Hiking was just the activity they happened to be engaged in on the day they accidentally crossed (or were lured across) the border into Iran. Their story is compelling as a prison and survival narrative, and as a result of their experiences, they have […]

A recent case from the Court of Appeal in Florida illustrates the perils of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements, but something more as well. Patrick Snay brought an age discrimination suit against a private school that did not renew his contract as headmaster, and settled the case for $80,000 plus $60,000 in attorneys’ fees. (According to footnote 5 of the opinion, it appears the settlement was accomplished by mediation.) So far, so good. The settlement agreement contained a strict confidentiality clause prohibiting the plaintiff from disclosing, directly or indirectly, any information whatsoever about the existence or terms of the agreement to anyone except professional advisers. But Snay’s daughter, who was a student at the school, and apparently had also suffered […]

Online dispute resolution was developed to create a more efficient system than the courts are capable of providing, especially for relatively small cross-border and internet transactions. Courts are simply too expensive and too cumbersome to resolve these kinds of conflicts. The nature of online communications allows for a more flexible conflict resolution process, one that is not tied to any one jurisdiction’s legal rules and procedures. The vast majority of these online disputes are resolved by informal means, facilitated by the speedy communications allowed by the internet. Is ODR therefore a form of ADR? Not necessarily. Remember that even the traditional, physical courthouse steers most cases toward informal resolution, whether by direct negotiation between the parties, settlement conferences with a […]

I moderated a panel this morning at the SXSW Interactive conference, on online dispute resolution, an appropriate topic for the techies who attend this event. I couldn’t help mentioning to one of my panelists, Colin Rule, that the last time he had appeared remotely at another conference I attended, we encountered a glitch in the Skype connection which made him unable to hear the questions being posed. So I was glad to have Colin at my side and in person this morning. Coincidentally, a couple of days ago at this conference, the exact same problem was suffered by Julian Assange who, being holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, was only able to appear here by remote hookup. The […]