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Settlement Guidelines


Settlement

Some or all parties to a contest case proceeding may enter into a settlement of any or all issues at any time during the proceeding.  See OAR 860-001-0350(1).  Settlements can avoid or minimize the need for contested case procedures, such as discovery, sworn testimony, and cross-examination.

Parties must codify any settlement into a stipulation and file it with the Commission for approval.  When filing a stipulation, parties must also file written testimony or an explanatory brief in support of the stipulation.  See OAR 860-001-0350(7).

A party may object to a stipulation and request a hearing within 15 days of the filing of the stipulation.  The Commission may hold a hearing to receive evidence on the stipulation.  See OAR 860-001-0350(8).

Parties are reminded that the filing of a stipulation does not terminate the proceeding or automatically suspend or modify the procedural schedule.  Parties should, as necessary, include proper motions to modify schedules or shorten time for objections.

The Commission is not bound by a settlement and will review it to determine whether it is in the public interest.  See OAR 860-001-0350(9).  The Commission may adopt or reject the stipulation, or propose it be modified.  If the Commission proposes the stipulation be modified, it will conduct additional proceedings to ensure the parties have the opportunity to develop a full official record before a final decision is made.

The Commission's ability to review the reasonableness of a stipulation is hindered when agreements are reached before the filing of testimony.  In such instances, the stipulations may leave the Commission with insufficient information to evaluate the merits of a proposed resolution.  There are other instances where a stipulation has the effect of precluding Commission consideration of an important public policy issue or where the Commission disagrees with the stipulation parties' resolution of a particular issue.