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IHA Initiates Alternative Dispute Resolution Pledge

The International Housewares Association has launched an initiative to help members save time and money by exploring Alternative Dispute Resolution instead of litigation in a courtroom setting. ADR methods include mediation and arbitration.
IHA is undertaking this initiative in alliance with the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, which has gathered support for ADR from Fortune 500 companies across the spectrum of business.
IHA and its board of directors are asking housewares industry suppliers to sign a policy statement on the preference to resolve legal matters using ADR methods. The non-binding pledge asserts a company’s support of the housewares industry in taking a stand against the escalating cost of litigation, including the costs associated with defending a company against legal claims of all types.
As of mid-July more than 30 companies had signed the pledge via word of mouth in advance of a formal announcement.
“Litigation costs impact all businesses and seem to be a function of just being ‘in business,’ ” said Phil Brandl, IHA president. “If both parties in a dispute can agree to resolve their issues through less expensive and more effective methods everyone will benefit, even consumers. Consumers will benefit because it would lower the costs of doing business for our members and business owners will be able to focus on their business and spend less time worrying about litigation.”
“ADR is a long-standing method for obtaining satisfaction in cases without the need for litigation by using mediation or arbitration,” according to Dale Matschullat, Of Counsel to Schiff Hardin LLP, former General Counsel of Newell Rubbermaid Inc., chairman of IHA’s Government Affairs Committee and counsel to IHA on the ADR initiative. “Many ADR methods are focused on allowing decision making to remain in the hands of the business parties involved and not the courts.”
“This is a way to avoid costly litigation that will benefit both parties,” said Bruce Kaminstein, CEO of Casabella Holdings LLC and chairman of IHA’s board. “Litigation seems to always run out of control and takes on needless costs. ADR is a way to contain these costs while attending to the issue at hand.”
Thomas Nichols, CEO, Pretika Corp., who has signed the pledge, agreed.
“ADR is an effective approach to avoiding legal costs across a broad array of dispute types,” Nichols said. “With increasing economic and competitive challenges facing IHA members today, the ability to reduce litigation costs through ADR is a strategic advantage— resulting in top line and bottom line cost savings, spending less time involved in legal issues and more time on increasing market share.”
“Litigation is expensive, time consuming and very frustrating…plus there will always be time to go to litigation,” added Robert Trudeau, chairman, Trudeau Corp. “Most of the time, most of us rely on our legal advisors. However, prior to this, there is a smart and mature alternative that could save a lot of grief, and that is ADR. It may not be a perfect alternative, but I signed IHA’s ADR pledge form to state affirmatively that my company will explore other means of resolving conflicts than by starting off with litigation.”
Another housewares executive, Bill McHenry, president and CEO of Widgeteer Inc., signed the pledge because “it just seems that litigation begets litigation, and it costs all of us dearly. As a member of the IHA, I was happy to participate in signing the ADR Pledge Form to help bring industry awareness to more sensible alternatives to suing someone in court. We should all avoid what has become a knee-jerk reaction by exploring more cost-effective, workable solutions like mediation.”

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