Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR)
The ERCB has chosen “appropriate” dispute resolution to highlight the importance of using appropriate techniques in a given situation to resolve disputes. It means that a dispute may be resolved through a number of options and parties are enabled to choose which one of them to use. At one end of the spectrum are means for resolution that allow parties control over the process used and the final agreements. They range from agreements made with no outside involvement (negotiations) through ERCB facilitation and third party mediation. At the other end are established formal procedures that result in a decision being made for the parties by arbitration and an administrative tribunal - e.g., ERCB Board hearing or the court system. All of these options may be appropriate depending on the specific circumstances.
The ERCB ADR program assists parties in resolving issues and disputes between affected parties, such as between energy companies and landowners and their neighbors. The goal of appropriate dispute resolution is to help people explore and understand each other's interests and develop acceptable solutions together. It means listening closely to the various sides and the parties involved coming up with solutions people might not think of on their own.
Use of ADR
The ERCB’s ADR program is used in landowner/resident-to-company disputes and/or C2C disputes in energy industry matters regulated by the ERCB. This included proposed development and operational disputes. The ERCB ADR program can be used once parties realize they cannot resolve a dispute themselves. ADR can be used prior to making an application to the ERCB, during the application review process or for operational disputes.
What are the ADR options?
The ERCB's main ADR options include:
- Direct negotiation : Formal and facilitated negotiations take place directly between the affected parties
- Facilitation : ERCB ADR specialists trained in mediation facilitate the communication and discussions between the affected parties to assist parties in reaching a satisfactory agreement
- Mediation : A professional, neutral third party mediator assists the affected parties in reaching a satisfactory agreement
- ERCB Board Hearing
What are the benefits of ADR?
The major benefits of ADR are:
- Parties are able to informally discuss and resolve the issue between themselves. Occasionally, the phrase "kitchen table" is used to describe the informal nature of these talks
- Improved landowner-company and company-company relations
- More face-to-face discussions between affected landowners and operators leading to local solutions to local problems
- Increased resolution of public-to-company dispute and C2C disputes without an ERCB hearing
- A more effective and efficient ERCB hearing, if one is necessary
- Input, control and understanding of a project
What principles are addressed in the ADR program?
- The ERCB believes that all parties with concerns should enter into meaningful interest-base discussions prior to accessing ERCB ADR staff or engaging in third party mediation
- The ERCB expects that companies will attempt to negotiate and resolve any concerns or disputes with the public/landowners/stakeholder and or other company participants as a result of a proposed or existing facility
- Participation for landowner/company disputes is voluntary - however the ERCB expects companies to participate in a Preliminary ADR (PADR) meeting for C2C disputes
- Participation does not preclude access to an ERCB hearing or the rights of the parties
- The use of the program should not delay the ERCB's application review process, decision on the need for or the scheduling of a hearing
- Discussions within a preliminary meeting, ERCB facilitation or third party mediation should be confidential and without prejudice, unless the parties agree otherwise
- The issue of costs should be negotiated by the parties either before or at a preliminary meeting, or, if one is not held, prior to the first facilitation/mediation meeting; In C2C disputes, the parties should share the cost and cover its own cost
- Discussions are to take place in good faith and with the appropriate decision makers at the table