Stephen McKinney Encourages Focus on the Georgia Mediation Act
Miles neutral Stephen McKinney issued a response to a recent article published in the Daily Report, “Singapore Convention Presents an Opportunity for Georgia in Mediation.”
The article analyzes the hot topic of the Singapore Convention and what it means for Georgia’s mediation and international mediation industry. The article’s authors, Dean Peter “Bo” Rutledge and Katherine Marie Larsen, state:
The Singapore Convention presents a unique opportunity for Georgia to become a forum for hospitable mediation. Much like it adopted an international arbitration code, the state could consider enacting an international mediation law tied to the provisions of the Singapore Convention. Such legislation could enhance Georgia’s appeal as a mediation forum and build upon its reputation as a jurisdiction hospitable to business, including the resolution of business disputes. States have employed such moves in the past, whether with the early adoption of international arbitration laws (as Georgia recently did) or the creation of specialized business courts (as Georgia did as well). Rapid adoption of an international mediation law gives Georgia an opportunity to seize the “pole position” among other states and signal its availability as a reliable mediation forum.
In response, McKinney explains:
The United States’ participation in the United Nation’s recently adopted Singapore Convention on the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements no doubt creates opportunities for Georgia to continue its strategy of becoming a dispute resolution forum of choice for international parties. However, a serious predicate to that ambition remains unadopted by the Georgia Legislature – the Georgia Mediation Act.
The Act, which has the full support of both the Georgia Bar and the state’s business community, has thus far languished in committee for two consecutive legislative sessions. If enacted, the Act would formally define, with reference to disputes both domestic and international, what mediation is and how it functions in the State of Georgia. This formalization of what to date has been a loose collection of credentialing and oversight rules, combined with practices formed by legal culture and habit, should give international parties much greater confidence that mediation in Georgia operates within enforced, predictable guidelines – particularly in regard to confidentiality.
With this threshold level of confidence established, Georgia will then be well prepared to scale up its participation in the mediation of international disputes of all kinds, and consider, when appropriate, specialized international mediation rules. The international dispute resolution landscape is changing rapidly and for the better. The Georgia Legislature should prioritize the passage of the Georgia Mediation Act so that the state and its professional and business communities can take full advantage of this outstanding opportunity.