CPR: A Crusader For ADR Through The Decades

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 09:42

The Editor interviews Olivier André, Special Counsel & Director of Dispute Resolution Services at the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution.

Editor: Can you tell us about CPR and its role in the field of dispute resolution over the past decades?

André: The International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) was created 35 years ago by general counsel at Fortune 100 companies to find alternatives to the high costs of litigation to resolve complex commercial disputes. CPR is a not-for-profit organization headquartered in New York, and its membership is composed of leading corporations and international law firms from around the world. CPR carries out its mission through committees, events, publications, training, an elite panel of arbitrators and mediators, and dispute resolution services.

In the 1980s, CPR launched the Corporate Policy Statement on Alternatives to Litigation© (“the Pledge”), which was signed by over 4,000 companies and which committed them to consider negotiation and other ADR techniques to resolve disputes with other signatories rather than pursuing costly full-scale litigation. The Pledge was instrumental in promoting the use of mediation in the United States and around the world. It enabled the signatories to get rid of the most important strategic hurdle to quick settlement: it let them make the first move and suggest private dispute resolution without being viewed as weak. The Pledge proved to be very successful. A recent survey of Fortune 1000 companies conducted by Cornell’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, CPR and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of Pepperdine University showed that mediation is now used by 97 percent of the companies in the U.S. to resolve disputes.  

Today, CPR’s mission has evolved to help global businesses and their lawyers resolve commercial disputes more efficiently and more cost-effectively, taking advantage of the full spectrum of dispute resolution processes (e.g., negotiation, mediation, arbitration).  

Editor: What is the new CPR 21st Century Corporate ADR Pledge? 

André: CPR recently launched its 21st Century Corporate ADR Pledge (“the 21st Century Pledge”), which is broader than the original Pledge. It builds upon its success and principles, and takes into account the developments in the field of dispute resolution over the past decades and trend towards a more systemic approach to dispute resolution by many companies. It is not limited to a two-party dispute resolution framework but instead focuses on proactive dispute management and systems designs. The 21st Century Pledge, along with its accompanying ADR toolkit, provides an even greater ability to achieve efficient, sustainable dispute management and resolution processes. It is a unilateral policy statement by signatories to focus on a systemic, global and sustainable approach to dispute resolution, an approach that integrates early case assessment of disputes and the determination of the most appropriate dispute resolution processes to resolve them.

Editor: Who has signed the 21st Century Corporate Pledge and who should sign it?

André: So far, 35 companies have signed the 21st Century Pledge. The signatories include major companies such as AkzoNobel, Amgen, Bechtel, BP, ConocoPhillips, Danaher, DuPont, Fluor, FMC Technologies, GE, GlaxoSmithKline, HP, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Northeast Utilities, Pepsico, Pfizer, Raytheon, Shell and Walgreens, to name a few. Companies who should sign the Pledge are those who see disputes as a normal part of doing business and who see the need to handle these disputes in a cost-effective and efficient way, while reducing the uncertainty as to the outcome and the risks of damaging business relationships. The Pledge signatories send a strong signal both to their internal teams and to their counterparts as to their policy for handling disputes.

Editor: Do I have to be a CPR member to sign the 21st Century Pledge?

André: No. Any company can sign the Pledge without becoming a CPR member. However, when a company becomes a CPR member, it can access additional dispute resolution resources on our website and participate in our committee work with other member organizations. CPR members have access to an array of tools, best practices and programs that they can use to build and fully implement a highly effective dispute resolution system into their corporate law department. The cost of replicating even a small portion of the CPR resources would be many times the cost of a CPR membership. In addition, Pledge signatories who also become CPR members have the opportunity to share best practices and collaborate with other signatories on substantive projects to advance the goals of the 21st Century Pledge and the specific needs of the signatories.

Editor: What is CPR doing internationally to promote the 21st Century Corporate ADR Pledge?

André: CPR is promoting the Pledge worldwide by working with other international dispute resolution organizations. So far, CPR has signed agreements for the joint promotion of the 21st Century Pledge in Italy with the Milan Chamber of Arbitration (CAM) and in the United Kingdom with the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR). These agreements provide unique opportunities to collaborate with these organizations on global issues of interest for the signatories.