Do mandatory mediations work in Florida foreclosure cases? That’s the question being asked by the Florida Supreme Court. The Court is seeking your input, but you only have until October 3rd to send in your comments.
Earlier this week, the Florida Supreme Court released Administrative Order SC11-33. In its Administrative Order, the Florida Supreme Court noted that more than one year of data has been collected on the statewide managed mediation program for residential foreclosures, and the Court wants to examine whether the mediations are effective.
The Court appointed a “Statewide Managed Mediation Program Assessment Workgroup” (the “Workgroup”) comprised of five judges and one court administrator, to examine the program data, consider other relevant information including the reduction in the backlog of foreclosure cases by other means, and make recommendations to the Court regarding the continuation, modification, or elimination of the statewide program.
Specifically, the Workgroup is charged with addressing the following two issues:
- Assess the success of the statewide managed mediation program in resolving cases as evidenced by data collected to date, as well as any other relevant information, including current foreclosure filings and other measures that have been taken to reduce the backlog of residential mortgage foreclosure cases, and make recommendations to continue, modify, or eliminate the statewide program; and
- Recommend steps to be taken to manage pending and new residential foreclosure cases if the mandate for managed mediation in these cases is eliminated.
Comments from interested persons concerning these two issues only may be submitted to the Workgroup. You must use the form located here. Interested persons must electronically submit the comment form by October 3, 2011. Here is the e-mail link, but don’t forget that it is mandatory that you submit your comments using the approved form which you can get here. No comments will be accepted in any other format, or after October 3, 2011. The Workgroup will present its report to the Florida Supreme Court by the end of October.
Although the mandatory mediations sounds like a great idea on paper, the results have been less than impressive. The Palm Beach Post reported this week that only 3.6 percent of all cases referred to mediation statewide in a yearlong period ended in a written agreement between the lender and homeowner. In Palm Beach County, the success rate is even lower – only 1.6 percent of the 4,632 referrals made ended in a written agreement. Both sides in the foreclosure cases blame the other for the low success rate at mediation. Regardless of the cause, this preliminary data suggests that the managed mediation program should be significantly retooled or dropped entirely.
Lawyers and litigants on both sides of foreclosure cases will be watching to see if there will be any statewide changes as a result of the Workgroup’s examination and report. Check back here at the end of October for an update after the Workgroup submits its report to the Florida Supreme Court.