NC’s New Option for Civil Dispute Resolution – the Uniform Collaborative Law Act 

On July 1, 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 32 into law. HB32 enacts the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (“UCLA”). The UCLA codifies the process of collaborative dispute resolution, currently used in family law matters, as a means of civil dispute resolution. In enacting the UCLA, North Carolina joins 18 other states and the District of Columbia in providing people of its state a very effective means of dispute resolution without the necessity of going to court.

 

 

Although collaborative dispute resolution is a very effective process to resolve disputes, it is not well-known. Until now, Collaborative Law was only allowed in NC in family cases and has been successful in settling family cases approximately 87% of the time, while an additional 3% of couples reconcile during the process. Collaborative Law has been used since 1994 and is currently practiced in at least 14 countries. The public and lawyers’ ability to utilize another dispute resolution process is a beneficial step for North Carolina. As a trained Certified Collaborative Attorney who litigated cases for over 17 years, I am excited and thankful that Collaborative Law has now been expanded for use in NC as a valuable method of dispute resolution for business, contract, construction, and all other practice areas.

 

“Not only is the process more cost-effective,
it is a unique process that, in most cases,
results in better outcomes for both parties.

.

What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is a voluntary, contractually based alternative dispute resolution process for parties who seek to negotiate a resolution of their matter rather than having a ruling imposed upon them by a court or arbitrator. The parties agree that their lawyer’s representation is limited to representing them solely for the purposes of negotiation, and that if the matter is not settled, new lawyers will be retained if the matter proceeds to litigation or arbitration. [1]

The lawyers and the clients agree to engage in good-faith negotiation, share relevant information, the use of joint experts (if experts are needed), client participation in the negotiations, respectful communications, and the confidentiality of the negotiation process. [2]

Benefits of Collaborative Law

The Collaborative Law process provides clients and lawyers with an option for amicable, non- adversarial dispute resolution. Like mediation, it promotes problem-solving using interest-based negotiations and can result in solutions that cannot be obtained in a courtroom setting or via a traditional lawsuit. [3] As with mediators, lawyers in a Collaborative case focus solely on the goal of settlement.

I would encourage any party in a civil or family dispute to consider Collaborative Law as an alternative to litigation. Not only is the process more cost-effective, it is a unique process that, in most cases, results in better outcomes for both parties. If you find yourself in a dispute and wish to discuss whether Collaborative Law is the right dispute resolution process for you, please contact Goodwin Law & Mediation to discuss the specifics of your case. 

 


[1] ABA Fact Sheet on The Uniform Collaborative Law Act
[2] Id.
[3] Id.

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