Instructions for Parties
The Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California (the “Court”) has established an alternate dispute resolution program known as the Bankruptcy Dispute Resolution Program (“BDRP” or the “Program”). The Bankruptcy Local Rules governing the BDRP are located at B.L.R. 9040 et seq. Copies of the BDRP Rules are available from the Clerk’s Office or the Court website at www.canb.uscourts.gov > Rules and Procedures > Bankruptcy Dispute Resolution Program > Rules and Procedures for BDRP.
Subject to a few exceptions (see, B.L.R. 9041-1), the BDRP is available to parties, whether or not represented by counsel, in all controversies arising in an adversary proceeding, contested matter or other dispute in a bankruptcy case.
The BDRP offers a means to resolve disputes quickly, at less cost and often without the stress and pressure of litigation. The Program utilizes the services of trained Resolution Advocates (an “RA”) to assist the parties in resolving their dispute, is entirely voluntary and has a modest charge of $100 per side. The charge may be waived in whole or part at the discretion of the RA assigned to the matter.
The Court may, with the agreement of the parties, refer a matter to the BDRP at any time, but typically such a referral may be made at a Case Management Conference, a Status Conference or at a hearing. Additionally, the parties may, at any time, submit a stipulated order requesting that a matter be referred to the BDRP. The stipulated order shall state that all parties to the dispute agree to the BDRP referral.
The following steps shall be taken whether a matter is referred to the BDRP by the Court, or by a request of the parties:
1) The parties to a dispute are to confer and select an RA and an Alternate RA who offer their services in the geographic area desired by the parties (e.g. Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Eureka and Salinas/Monterey). A biographical listing of all RAs, and a separate list showing the availability of each RA by geographic area, are available for reference in the Clerk's Office and posted outside each courtroom, or may be obtained from the courtroom deputy or the Court website at www.canb.uscourts.gov > Rules and Procedures > Bankruptcy Dispute Resolution Program > Resolution Advocate Biographical Information and > Resolution Advocate Availability By Location. Selection of an RA and Alternate RA shall be made only from these lists. The parties may wish to contact an RA to determine his or her current availability to undertake a BDRP referral.
2) After selection of an RA and Alternate RA, the parties must file a completed Stipulation to Appoint Resolution Advocate and also complete and submit to the Court an Order Appointing Resolution Advocate for approval. If the submitting party is not a CM/ECF electronic filer with this Court, such party shall submit two paper copies of the Order, together with a postage-paid envelope addressed to the submitting party. The Clerk’s Office will use the postage-paid envelope to mail the submitting party a copy of the signed Order.
3) Upon receipt of the signed Order referring the matter to BDRP, the submitting party shall immediately serve a copy of the Order on the RA, the Alternate RA and all parties to the dispute.
Upon receiving a copy of the signed Order, the appointed RA will contact the parties. The RA, in conjunction with the parties, will determine a time, place and format for a BDRP conference. Possible formats include:
Facilitation - A collaborative process in which the RA functions as a neutral providing information about the process. The RA does not make substantive contributions regarding the merits of the dispute or possible settlements. As a facilitator, the RA helps the parties define the issues and thereby increase the likelihood that the parties will reach a consensus.
Mediation - A flexible non-binding, confidential process in which the RA functions as a neutral mediator to facilitate negotiations among the parties to help them reach a settlement. The mediator's goals include improving communication across party lines, helping parties articulate their interests and understand those of the their opponent, probing the strengths and weaknesses of each party's legal positions, helping identify areas of agreement and generating options for a mutually agreeable resolution to the dispute. The mediator generally does not give an overall evaluation of the case. A hallmark of mediation is its capacity to expand traditional settlement discussion and broaden resolution options often by going beyond the legal issues in the controversy.
Early Neutral Evaluation - The parties and their counsel, in a confidential session, present summaries of their dispute to and receive a non-binding assessment from the RA as an experienced neutral professional with subject-matter expertise. As an evaluator the RA also helps identify areas of agreement, provides case-planning guidance and, if requested by the parties, settlement assistance.
The formats described here are non-binding, voluntary, and confidential. Other formats, with the exception of arbitration, may be used by agreement and at the discretion of the parties and the RA.
All rules, instructions, certifications, forms, lists, orders and other documents and information necessary to comply with the BDRP requirements are available on the Court website at www.canb.uscourts.gov > Rules and Procedures > Bankruptcy Dispute Resolution Program > Bankruptcy Dispute Resolution Program Procedures & Forms.
If you have any questions, please contact the BDRP Staff Administrator, Ron Mastroianni at (415) 268-2341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.