Companies who work in the state’s maritime industry may already know that they could have some dealings with the California Public Utility Commission. Those dealings may not always be amicable, and a business could end up involved in licensing or regulatory disputes with the agency. If that happens, it may be possible to resolve those issues through alternative dispute resolution.
When requesting ADR for a dispute, the parties agree to abide by some basic principles. The parties must enter into the process voluntarily. The administrative law judge may require the parties to participate in settlement conferences, attend facilitated workshops or explore the feasibility of ADR with a neutral. third party.
The CPUC’s program is free and is designed to shorten the time it takes to reach a resolution. Of course, as long as the parties are working toward a mutually satisfactory agreement in good faith, time is not necessarily a consideration. In other words, the parties should not use the process to gain some sort of tactical advantage or to delay the proceedings. Another good thing about the process is the proceedings remain confidential, which means that the details of the parties’ dispute or its resolution will not necessarily end up publicized in some way.
Whenever possible, using ADR to resolve licensing and regulatory disputes can provide a less adversarial atmosphere for reaching an agreement that benefits all of the parties involved. Even so, a California business may still want to take steps to protect its rights and future. Working with an attorney experienced in maritime law, the CPUC and ADR could prove invaluable.