Florida Condo Attorney Discusses Alternative Dispute Resolution

*You should always consult with a Florida Law Firm that focuses on representing condo owners when contemplating a lawsuit or when faced with the threat of a lawsuit by your condo or homeowner’s association.

Alternative dispute resolution (A.D.R.) is discussed in  § 718.1255 of the Florida Statutes dealing with Condominiums.  A.D.R.  is used to resolve a case without having to file a lawsuit. Since lawsuits are expensive and time consuming the Courts favor the resolution of disputes amicably. In fact, with  Condo claims, nonbinding arbitration is mandatory and if you file suit without first pursuing your remedies in arbitration the Judge will be required to dismiss your case. Therefor it is important for owners of Condominiums and Coops to first determine whether their claims are subject to Arbitration or Litigation before they attempt to file a lawsuit.

One of the main differences between the statutes governing Homeowners Associations (HOA’s) and Condominium Associations (COA’s) is that before suit may be filed against an HOA the owner must send out an OFFER TO PARTICIPATE IN PRE-SUIT MEDIATION PURSUANT TO FLA. STAT. § 720.311 (2)(b). This demand to resolve the dispute through presuit mediation is required before a lawsuit can be filed concerning the dispute. Pursuant to the statute, the parties are required to engage in presuit mediation with a neutral third party mediator in order to attempt to resolve this dispute without court action, and the aggrieved party demands that you likewise agree to this process. If you either side fails to participate in the mediation process, suit may be brought without further warning.  Moreover, the party failing to participate in mediation is precluded from recovering fees or costs in any litigation or arbitration proceeding involving those issues.

The process of mediation involves a supervised negotiation process in which a trained neutral third party mediator meets with both parties and assists them in exploring possible opportunities for resolving part or all of the dispute. By agreeing to participate in presuit mediation, you are not bound in any way to change your position. Furthermore, the mediator has no authority to make any decisions in this matter or to determine who is right or wrong and merely acts as a facilitator to ensure that each party understands the position of the other party and that all options for reasonable settlement are fully explored.

If you have been sent a request to attend pre-suit mediation or are contemplating litigation against your Association you should first consult with an experienced Florida Condominium Law Firm. When choosing a Law Firm make sure that they do not also represent Associations as there could be the potential for conflicts of interest to arise.   The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A., takes pride in representing owners in disputes with their associations. We do not represent Associations.

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