Chief Justice Mark Martin has proclaimed the third week of October (October 14-20) as Conflict Resolution Week in the state of North Carolina in a ceremonial proclamation. Conflict Resolution Week is intended to recognize the importance of dispute resolution to the State, its courts, and its citizens.
On Thursday, October 18, the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (NCDRC) will host a reception in celebration of Conflict Resolution Week at the N.C. Judicial Center.
During the reception, the first annual Up and Coming Mediator Award will be presented by NCDRC staff to family law attorney Ketan Soni in honor and appreciation of his dedication and service to mediation in North Carolina.
North Carolina has long had a strong commitment to programs that promote dispute resolution. The General Assembly created mediation and arbitration programs which have successfully operated in North Carolina’s district and superior courts for more than 25 years. The N.C. Dispute Resolution Commission (NCDRC), established in October 1995, is charged with certifying and regulating private mediators who serve the courts, and also recommends policy, rules and rule revisions relating to dispute resolution in N.C. courts. The 17-member Commission is chaired by Judge William Webb and includes members appointed by all three branches of government.
Thousands of disputes between individuals, family members, corporations, small businesses, governmental agencies and others are brought before N.C. civil and criminal courts each year. Mediation, arbitration, and other conflict resolution processes, such as collaborative law and neutral evaluation, can help reduce the demands on the trial courts and improve efficiency. Many disputes are effectively addressed and resolved by the parties themselves with the help of a trained mediator or arbitrator, without the need to involve the police or the court system.
The Judicial Branch joins the American Bar Association, the Association for Conflict Resolution, and other organizations in celebrating the success of conflict resolution programs in North Carolina and across the country. Chief Justice Martin acknowledges court-based mediators, as well as the volunteer mediators and staff serving the more than 20 nonprofit community mediation centers operating across North Carolina. Mediators address a wide variety of disputes, including misdemeanor criminal matters, divorces, estates, guardianships, automobile accidents, business and contract matters and many others.
The Commission reports that of cases mediated in FY 2017-18, more than 58.6 percent of civil superior court cases and more than 72.6 percent of family financial cases were settled. With respect to arbitration, more than 80 percent of awards stood without appeal to become binding orders of the court. Additionally, the Child Custody and Visitation Mediation Program reports in 2017-18 that 5,283 parenting agreements were drafted, 11,239 mediation sessions were held, and 19,463 attended orientation sessions across the state.
The North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission was established in October 1995, pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-38.2. The Commission is charged primarily with certifying and regulating private mediators who serve the courts of this State. The Commission also recommends policy, rules and rule revisions relating to dispute resolution in North Carolina's courts; provides support to court-based mediation programs; certifies mediation training programs; serves as a clearinghouse for information about court-based mediation programs; and assists other state agencies interested in or providing dispute resolution services to their constituencies.