Final Report and Recommendations on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases

TALLAHASSEE — Facing the nation’s worst foreclosure crisis, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy Quince has Ok’d recommendations from a panel of experts to order foreclosure cases into a new “managed mediation” program where debtors could try to negotiate their way out of losing their homes.

Florida’s court system expects to have nearly half a million homeowners in foreclosure proceedings when the ball drops on the New Year this week, flooding court dockets statewide. Quince notes in her administrative order released Monday that “the crisis continues unabated.”

The high court’s mortgage foreclosure task force earlier this year recommended  a uniform, statewide managed mediation program to be implemented through each circuit chief judge. Under this program, all homesteaded residential foreclosure cases would be referred to mediation, unless the plaintiff and borrower agree otherwise or have already gone through pre-suit mediation.

“Referral of the borrower to foreclosure counseling prior to mediation, early electronic exchange of borrower and lender information prior to mediation, and the ability of a plaintiff’s representative to appear at mediation by telephone are features of the model administrative order,” Quince writes.

“The Court approves this recommendation as the best method to open communication and facilitate problem-solving between the parties to foreclosure cases while conserving limited judicial resources.”