Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pilot Magistrate Mediation Program in Lexington and Richland Counties

This is a bad idea. The SC Supreme Court has a pilot program of mandatory mediation in South Carolina's magistrate's court. Under the new rules, for a couple of thousand dollar claim, a pro se plaintiff can require that a representative of the insurance company (if there is one involved) attend the mediation. The price of a hotel room and plane ticket for the adjuster in many cases might exceed the amount claimed by the plaintiff. Hence, in insurance cases, the defense could be forced into settlement to avoid the expenses of mediation.

To highlight the wild wild west nature of magistrate's court, the Supreme Court has adopted the following in this pilot program:

The parties and any other person present shall maintain the confidentiality of the mediation and shall not rely on, or introduce as evidence in any arbitral, judicial or other proceeding, any oral or written communications having occurred in a mediation proceeding. This does not prohibit the following:

(4) Threats of harm or attempts to inflict physical harm made during the mediation sessions;

Yep, South Carolina's magistrate's courts are a thing of beauty.

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