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February 5, 2022

2021 The Georgia Uniform Mediation Act for Mediators and Arbitrators

In Spring 2021, the State Bar of Georgia passed the Georgia Uniform Mediation Act(GUMA) providing new protections and uniform requirements for private mediation in Georgia. The law, which recently went into effect on July 1, 2021, is the beginning of elevating how parties experience private mediation and confidentiality. This article will explain more about the Georgia Mediation Act below.

Mediation and Arbitration in Georgia

Georgia has continued to be a national leader in the dispute resolution field for court-ordered cases. Since 1993, under the Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Rules, parties in public, court-connected mediation sessions are assured certain protections such as confidentiality, immunity, and mediator impartiality.

Currently, a number of these protections are inconsistent, weak, and confusing. The new Georgia Uniform Mediation Act helps align different requirements expected of parties and mediators in private mediation with the rules of public mediation.

Public Mediation vs. Private Mediation

The Georgia Uniform Mediation Act now includes protections for public and private mediations.
Public mediation can be court-referred or court-ordered. This is the dispute resolution process implemented after the conflict has entered litigation in the court system and is considered public. In public mediation, parties may or may not have legal representation and the settlements reached become legally binding.
While private mediation can be court-ordered as well, it is not always the case. This is a preferred option to help parties with or without legal representation find agreement through the use of a mediator before or in lieu of litigation. In private mediation, any settlement created during this process becomes legally binding with the parties’ signatures.

The Georgia Uniform Mediation Act

The enactment of GUMA establishes a number of protections for mediators and participants in dispute resolution.
Now, confidentiality privileges and protection for mediators and participants prohibits what is said during a private mediation from being used in later legal proceedings. Additionally, these same GUMA privileges and protections of confidentiality attach to mediators.

GUMA has also incorporated the 2018 United Nations Commission on International Trade’s Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation. This incorporation modernizes how ADR professionals governing international mediations conducted in Georgia. Georgia is the first state to adopt this aspect of UMA, strengthening their position as a national leader in dispute resolution and meditation-friendly, cross-border dispute jurisdiction.

Lastly, uniformity regarding these protections is necessary in cross-jurisdictional mediation and arbitration. Across public mediation and private mediation, it can be unclear which state’s laws apply. Participating individuals and parties can trust their mediation process is privileged and protected to the reach of their home state’s dispute resolution confidentiality laws.

Fourth Party and The Georgia Uniform Mediation Act

The new Georgia Uniform Mediation Act will ensure all Georgia mediations are afforded these new protections. With GUMA front of mind for Georgia ADR professionals, the Fourth Party app provides disputing parties a safe and secure virtual option for conflict resolution. Resolving conflict faster. The Fourth Party app is your secure, intuitive solution for on the move arbitration and mediation professionals to manage tasks, streamline negotiations, and track results – all in one place.

Also, the Fourth Party app helps you stay on top of state filings and compliance before, during, and after your mediations. Are you looking to maximize your time, money, and client relationships with smart features for busy negotiators and ADR professionals? Click here to book a demo with us at Fourth Party. We look forward to getting to know you and doing our part to improve the dispute resolution process.