RULES OF THE SUPERIOR COURTS OF
SOUTHERN JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF GEORGIA
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
RULE 1. REFERRAL TO ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION ("ADR")
(a) Except as hereinafter provided, any contested civil or domestic relation cases that are
still pending after 150 calendar days after the original complaint is filed shall be referred to
ADR. Any domestic relation case in which domestic violence is an issue shall not be
referred to ADR.
(b) Cases may, in the discretion of the Court, be referred to ADR prior to the mandatory
150 day time period. The parties and/or their attorneys may also request the Court to have
their case referred to ADR. A Court "ORDER" referring the case to ADR shall be executed
by the presiding Judge. The original Order shall be filed in the case file in the office of the
Clerk of Court making the referral. The Clerk of Court shall be responsible for serving by
mail or in person a copy of said Order on the parties and counsel of record. Cases shall be
screened by the presiding Judge to determine if the case is appropriate for ADR.
(c) The following actions shall be excluded from ADR:
(1) Appeals from rulings of administrative agencies;
(2) In Rem Condemnations;
(3) Habeas Corpus and extraordinary writs;
(4) Declaratory Judgements;
(5) URESA actions
RULE 2. TIMING OF ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESSES
(a) Within 10 calendar days after the case is referred to ADR, the parties shall inform the
Dispute Resolution Office of the neutral agreed upon by the parties. The neutral shall be
chosen from the list of registered neutrals kept by the Administrator of the ADR program.
Absent agreement by the parties on a neutral, it shall follow the same process as herein
provided by paragraph (b) of Rule 4.
(b) Within 5 calendar days after the parties have notified the Dispute Resolution Office of
the selected neutral, the selected neutral shall contact the parties and inform them of the
date, time and place for the scheduled ADR session.
(c) Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the ADR session shall be held within 15
calendar days after the parties have received notification of the ADR session.
RULE 3. EXEMPTION FROM ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
A party may, within 10 days after the case is referred to ADR, petition the Court to
dispense with ADR if:
(a) The issue to be considered has previously gone through the ADR process;
(b) The issue presents a question of law only;
(c) Other good cause is shown to the presiding Judge.
RULE 4. APPOINTMENT OF NEUTRAL
(a) The parties shall have an opportunity to agree upon a neutral from the list of registered
neutrals kept by the Administrator of the Dispute Resolution Office.
(b) Absent agreement by the parties on a neutral, the neutral will be appointed by said
Administrator from the rotational list of registered neutrals.
(c) Any party, for good cause shown, may request the Dispute Resolution Administrator
for appointment of another neutral.
RULE 5. NEUTRAL QUALIFICATIONS FOR SERVICE IN THE PROGRAM
The qualifications and training for a neutral shall not be less than the minimum qualifications
set out in the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules. The neutrals
must be registered by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.
RULE 6. COMPENSATION OF NEUTRALS
(a) The Administrator of the Dispute Resolution Office shall maintain a rotational list of
registered neutrals. From this list, neutrals will be selected for cases referred to the ADR
program in this circuit. Each neutral whose name appears on such list shall keep the
Administrator advised of the amounts such neutral will charge for his or her services as a
neutral, and shall not charge in excess of the amounts he or she has listed with such
Administrator. This information shall be made available upon request to the parties in any
case referred to ADR prior to the selection of a neutral in that case.
(b) The amounts charged and to be charged by a neutral in any case referred to ADR under
this program shall be subject to approval or disapproval by the Superior Court Judges of
the Southern Judicial Circuit.
(c) The parties in the ADR process shall be responsible for the payment of the neutral's fee,
which shall be equally divided between the parties, unless otherwise ordered by the
presiding Judge. Within 120 days after the original complaint is filed, a party may apply with
the Dispute Resolution Office for a determination of whether or not said party is indigent
and unable to pay the fee of the neutral. If the Dispute Resolution Office determines that
such party is indigent, the ADR Program will provide payment for the services of a neutral
from the Southern Judicial Circuit ADR Fund.
(d) Satisfactory arrangements for payment of the neutral's fee shall be made between the
parties and the neutral.
RULE 7. IMMUNITY
Neutrals acting in the ADR process are entitled to immunity as provided for in the Georgia
Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.
RULE 8. CONFIDENTIALITY
Confidentiality for the ADR process is governed by the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative
Dispute Resolution Rules.
RULE 9. APPEARANCE
The presence of parties and attorneys of record at all ADR sessions is required, except that
attorneys are not required, but are encouraged, to attend ADR mediation sessions. The
requirement that a party appear at an ADR session is satisfied if the following persons are
(a) The party with full authority to settle without further consultation and/or
(b) The party's representative if that representative has full authority to settle without further
consultation, and a full understanding of the dispute, and full knowledge of the facts.
RULE 10. SANCTIONS FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR
If a party or attorney fails to appear at a duly noticed ADR session after being ordered to
do so, the Dispute Resolution Office shall notify the presiding Judge. The requirements for
appearance at a duly noticed ADR session are that the party:
(a) Pay the neutral at such duly noticed ADR session; and
(b) Listen to the opening statements of the neutral.
If the above requirements are not satisfied the offending party may, in the discretion of the
presiding Judge, be subject to the sanctions of contempt, the imposition of the costs and
fees of the neutral; attorney fees; expenses and lost wages of the other party; and such other
sums as the interest of justice may require.
RULE 11. COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN NEUTRAL AND PARTIES AND
Communication outside of the ADR session between the parties or attorneys and the neutral
shall be only for the purpose of verification of appointment times and locations. In ADR
mediation, the neutral may meet and consult privately with any party or any attorney during
the mediation session.
RULE 12. COMMUNICATION WITH THE COURT
Communication between the Dispute Resolution Office and the Court, and between neutrals
and the Court, are governed by the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution
Rules. There shall be no communication between the Court and the parties during the ADR
RULE 13. COMPLETION OF ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
(a) ADR shall be completed within 20 days of the first ADR session. A motion asking for
extension of the ADR session shall be made to the presiding Judge.
(b) Length of ADR sessions are scheduled for two hours. However, the length of the ADR
session may, in the discretion of the neutral, be shorter or longer.
(c) The neutral may recess the ADR session at any time and may set times for reconvening
the recessed session.
(d) If a settlement is reached, a memorandum of said settlement shall be reduced to writing
by the neutral, signed by the neutral and both parties. The memorandum of settlement shall
be given to the parties attorneys and said attorneys shall prepare a settlement agreement or
consent order in proper legal form. The settlement agreement or consent order shall then be
presented to the presiding Judge for filing with the original case file in the office of the Clerk
of the referring Court. A copy of said settlement agreement shall be furnished to the Dispute
(e) If a partial settlement is reached, it shall follow the same process as paragraph (d) of
(f) Upon any settlement or partial settlement being signed, the neutral shall notify the Dispute
(g) If the parties do not reach a settlement as to any matter as a result of ADR, the neutral
will report the lack of a settlement to the Dispute Resolution Office. The Dispute Resolution
Office shall then notify the presiding Judge who referred the case to ADR of the lack of an
RULE 14. CONFLICTS
For purposes of conflicts, the ADR session shall be construed as being a non-jury
proceeding pursuant to the Uniform Rules of Superior Courts. The parties and counsel may
rely upon said Rules in resolving and scheduling conflicts. The party or counsel who is
requesting that a ADR session be rescheduled must obtain consent therefor from the
neutral. The Dispute Resolution Office must also be notified of any rescheduling.
RULE 15. ADMINISTRATION OF THE ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
The Administrator of the Dispute Resolution Office shall be the Circuit Court
Administrator. Said Administrator shall be compensated in an amount set by the Superior
Court Judges of the Southern Judicial Circuit. The compensation shall be paid from the
Southern Judicial Circuit Fund for the Administration of Alternative Dispute Resolution
Programs. The Administrator shall be responsible for all administrative matters pertaining to
the ADR program. These responsibilities include, but shall not be limited to:
(a) Receiving referrals from the Superior Courts of this Circuit.
(b) Scheduling neutrals equitably and insuring timely ADR of all cases.
(c) Notifying presiding Judges of results of ADR.
(d) Processing requests for payment from neutrals.
(e) Evaluating procedures on an on-going basis and recommending changes if needed.
(f) Performing such other duties as may be directed by the Superior Court Judges.
RULE 16. EVALUATION
The Dispute Resolution Office will provide to the Georgia Office of Alternative Dispute
Resolution, under the Georgia Supreme Court, information which will allow full evaluation
of the program. The information will be provided on an ongoing basis.
The Superior Court Judges of the Southern Judicial Circuit shall
retain ultimate authority over the ADR program.