Hawaii’s Uniform Collaborative Law Act (HUCLA)

The Hawaii Uniform Collaborative Law Act (HUCLA), effective July 1, 2012, standardizes the most important features of the newly developing area of collaborative law practice, and encourages the development and growth of collaborative law as an option for parties who wish to use it as a form of alternative dispute resolution.

Collaborative law is a voluntary process in which the lawyers and clients agree that the lawyers will represent the clients solely for the purposes of settlement, and that the clients will hire new counsel if the case does not settle. The parties and their lawyers work together to find an equitable resolution of a dispute, retaining experts as necessary. No one is required to participate, and parties are free to terminate the process at any time. HUCLA includes explicit informed-consent requirements for parties to enter into collaborative law agreements with an understanding of the costs and benefits of participation. The process is intended to promote full and open disclosure, and information disclosed in a collaborative process, which is not otherwise discoverable, is privileged against use in any subsequent litigation.

The collaborative law process provides lawyers and clients with an important, useful, and cost-effective option for amicable, non-adversarial dispute resolution. Like mediation, it promotes problem-solving and permits solutions not possible in litigation or arbitration.

The clear statutory framework for the collaborative process, set forth in HUCLA, provides significant benefits. Parties and counsel know what to expect, and are able to rely on a statutorily enacted privilege governing communications during the process. Attorneys have guidance in determining whether collaborative law is appropriate for a particular dispute or client.

HUCLA is based on the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA). Like all uniform state laws, the UCLA is the result of more than three (3) years of intensive effort. Representatives from state bars, collaborative attorney groups, litigators, domestic violence coalitions, and state courts all participated in the drafting of the UCLA, as did representatives from the family law, dispute resolution, and litigation sections of the American Bar Association.