Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 2.2. Administration of Government
Chapter 41.1. Virginia Administrative Dispute Resolution Act

Chapter 41.1. Virginia Administrative Dispute Resolution Act.

§ 2.2-4115. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise:

"Dispute resolution proceeding" means any structured process in which a neutral assists parties to a dispute in reaching a voluntary settlement by means of dispute resolution processes such as mediation, conciliation, facilitation, partnering, fact-finding, neutral evaluation, use of ombudsmen or any other proceeding leading to a voluntary settlement. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "dispute resolution proceeding" does not include arbitration.

"Mediation" means a process in which a neutral facilitates communication between the parties and without deciding the issues or imposing a solution on the parties enables them to understand and resolve their dispute.

"Mediation program" means a program of a public body through which mediators or mediation is made available and includes the director, agents and employees of the program.

"Mediator" means a neutral who is an impartial third party selected by agreement of the parties to a dispute to assist them in mediation.

"Neutral" means an individual who is trained or experienced in conducting dispute resolution proceedings and in providing dispute resolution services.

"Public body" means any legislative body; any authority, board, bureau, commission, district or agency of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, including counties, cities and towns, city councils, boards of supervisors, school boards, planning commissions, governing boards of institutions of higher education; and other organizations, corporations or agencies in the Commonwealth supported wholly or principally by public funds. "Public body" includes any committee, subcommittee, or other entity however designated, of the public body or formed to advise the public body, including those with private sector or citizen members and corporations organized by the Virginia Retirement System. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "public body" does not include courts of the Commonwealth.

"State agency" or "agency" means any authority, instrumentality, officer, board or other unit of state government empowered by the basic laws to adopt regulations or decide cases. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "state agency" does not include the courts of the Commonwealth.

2002, c. 633.

§ 2.2-4116. Authority to use dispute resolution proceedings.

A. Except as specifically prohibited by law, if the parties to the dispute agree, any public body may use dispute resolution proceedings to narrow or resolve any issue in controversy. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit or limit other public body dispute resolution authority. Nothing in this chapter shall create or alter any right, action, cause of action, or be interpreted or applied in a manner inconsistent with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.), applicable federal or state law or any provision that requires the Commonwealth to obtain or maintain federal delegation or approval of any regulatory program. Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the use of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to obtain the disclosure of information concerning expenses incurred in connection with a dispute resolution proceeding or the amount of money paid by a public body or agency to settle a dispute.

B. A decision by a public body to participate in or not to participate in a specific dispute resolution proceeding shall be within the discretion of the public body and is not subject to judicial review. This subsection does not affect or supersede any law mandating the use of a dispute resolution proceeding.

C. An agreement arising out of any dispute resolution proceeding shall not be binding upon a public body unless the agreement is affirmed by the public body.

2002, c. 633.

§ 2.2-4117. State agency promotion of dispute resolution proceedings.

A. Each state agency shall adopt a written policy that addresses the use of dispute resolution proceedings within the agency and for the agency's program and operations. The policy shall include, among other things, training for employees involved in implementing the agency's policy and the qualifications of a neutral to be used by the agency.

B. The head of each state agency shall designate an existing or new employee to be the dispute resolution coordinator of the agency. The duties of a dispute resolution coordinator may be collateral to those of an existing official.

C. Each state agency shall review its policies, procedures and regulations and shall determine whether and how to amend such policies, procedures and regulations to authorize and encourage the use of dispute resolution proceedings.

D. Any state agency may use the services of other agencies' employees as neutrals and an agency may allow its employees to serve as neutrals for other agencies as part of a neutral-sharing program.

E. This chapter does not supersede the provisions of subdivision 2 of § 2.2-1202.1 and subdivision B 4 of § 2.2-3000, which require certain agencies to participate in the mediation program administered by the Department of Human Resource Management.

2002, c. 633; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 2.2-4118. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2012, cc. 803, 835, cl. 3.

§ 2.2-4119. Confidentiality between parties; exemption to Freedom of Information Act.

A. Except for the materials described in subsection B, all dispute resolution proceedings conducted pursuant to this chapter are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).

B. All memoranda, work products, or other materials contained in the case file of a mediator are confidential and all materials in the case file of a mediation program pertaining to a specific mediation are confidential. Any communication made in or in connection with a mediation that relates to the dispute, including communications to schedule a mediation, whether made to a mediator, a mediation program, a party or any other person is confidential. A written settlement agreement is not confidential unless the parties agree in writing. Confidential materials and communications are not subject to disclosure or discovery in any judicial or administrative proceeding except (i) when all parties to the mediation agree, in writing, to waive the confidentiality; (ii) to the extent necessary in a subsequent action between the mediator and a party for damages arising out of the mediation; (iii) statements, memoranda, materials and other tangible evidence, otherwise subject to discovery, which were not prepared specifically for use in and actually used in the mediation; (iv) where communications are sought or offered to prove or disprove a claim or complaint of professional misconduct or malpractice filed against the mediator; (v) where a threat to inflict bodily injury is made; (vi) where communications are intentionally used to plan, attempt to commit or commit a crime or conceal an ongoing crime; (vii) where communications are sought or offered to prove or disprove a claim or complaint of misconduct or malpractice filed against a party, nonparty, participant or representative of a party based on conduct occurring during a mediation; (viii) where communications are sought or offered to prove or disprove any of the reasons listed in § 8.01-576.12 that would enable a court to vacate a mediated agreement; or (ix) as provided by law or rule other than the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.). The use of attorney work product in a mediation shall not result in a waiver of the attorney work product privilege. Unless otherwise specified by the parties, no mediation proceeding shall be electronically or stenographically recorded.

2002, c. 633.