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Dispute Resolution Act Statement on Signing S. 423 Into Law.

February 12, 1980

In my civil justice system reform message to Congress last year, I called for passage of the Dispute Resolution Act. I said that this legislation would enable the Federal and State Governments to work in partnership to improve the delivery of justice to all the people of the United States. Today I am pleased to sign this legislation into law.

This act will establish a program under the Department of Justice to encourage the development of inexpensive and expedient local mechanisms to resolve disputes between consumers and sellers. landlords and tenants, and others. It will establish a resource center to serve as an information clearinghouse and a source of technical assistance, research, and evaluation. A grant program, authorized at $10 million annually for fiscal years 1981 to 1984, will provide seed money to spur State and local governments and nonprofit organizations to create or improve processes for minor dispute resolution. Finally, the act creates a national Dispute Resolution Advisory Board to provide advice.

Many disputes generated in our modern society are often ill suited for referral to costly, formal adjudication and as a consequence are frequently never resolved. While such disputes may be minor in terms of the money or issues involved, they are of major significance to the people involved. Frustration and alienation result when legitimate grievances go unheard for want of readily available, easy-to-use mechanisms for resolution of conflict. It is most appropriate that we are taking action to address this national problem.

Senator Wendell Ford deserves special appreciation for his outstanding efforts on behalf of this bill. Senators Edward Kennedy, Birch Bayh, Howard Metzenbaum, and John Danforth also deserve particular recognition for their leadership and support. Representatives Robert Kastenmeier, Tom Railsback, Richardson Preyer, James Broyhill, Bob Eckhardt, and James Scheuer all deserve congratulations for their outstanding leadership on behalf of this legislation.

The Dispute Resolution Act and the Federal Magistrates Act of 1979 are the first two measures in my civil justice reform program to pass Congress. The Federal Courts Improvement Act has passed the Senate, and I urge the House to act on it early in the session. I hope that the Congress will also pass the other bills recommended in my message, such as the one relating to the obligatory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

Note: As enacted, S. 423 is Public Law 96190, approved February 12.

Jimmy Carter, Dispute Resolution Act Statement on Signing S. 423 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250040

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