ROSEMONT, Ill.–The International Housewares Association has introduced an initiative designed to urge members to explore alternative dispute resolution (ADR) instead of litigation in court in business disputes.
IHA is undertaking this program in an alliance with the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, a non-profit organization that promotes innovation in dispute resolution. The association is urging its members to sign a pledge that they will explore resolutions of disputes through negotiation or other ADR techniques, such as arbitration and mediation, that can avoid lawsuits. As of mid-July, according to an IHA statement, more than 30 companies have signed the pledge.
In an interview with HFN, Phil Brandl, the association’s president, said it has set up a “hot line” for members that want to explore ADR in disputes. Members can call Dean Kurtis, IHA’s vice president of finance and information technology, who will provide information on alternatives to litigation. In addition, Dale Matschullat, chairman of IHA’s Government Affairs Committee and attorney with Schiff Hardin, will contribute advice on ADR at no charge to members that sign the pledge.
“Litigation is costing our members a lot of money,” Brandl told HFN. “Disputes between members is the number one reason our phones ring. Legally we can’t get involved in these disputes, but we needed to be proactive in playing a role in dispute resolution in other ways.”
IHA’s ADR program, the pledge in particular, is the solution to this need, Matschullat said. “You sign the pledge and we will find alternatives to litigation,” he said. “The whole idea is to find business solutions to these disputes. Litigation will still be an option, but when a dispute rises, members will tell the other party that they want to look at disputes from a business position first rather than a legal position.”