The disqualification provision in the Collaborative Practice Participation Agreement is the distinguishing characteristic of the Collaborative Process from other dispute resolution processes.
The hesitancy to sign the Collaborative Practice Participation Agreement which includes the disqualification requirement often comes out of a combination of fear and misunderstanding the power of the disqualification clause. There may be a fear on the part of the professionals that their role in the process may be diminished by losing the client if the Collaborative Process is terminated. This fear is often increased by the scarcity fear that there aren’t enough Collaborative Practice cases, or perhaps work in general, so the professional doesn’t want to risk losing the case if the client goes to court. Another potential fear is for reputation – how would it impact the statistics/success rate of the professional if the clients go to court and the case is lost to the professional.
The importance of the disqualification clause is that it offers motivation for everyone in the room, clients and professionals, to work toward resolution. It increases the trust among everyone at the table and allows for the deep and often transformational Collaborative work to be done at that safe table which is not possible without the protections of the Participation Agreement.
Without the disqualification clause there is no Collaborative Process. There is a great disservice done to the public’s understanding of the Collaborative Process when work is done without the requirements of the Participation Agreement and still called “Collaborative”.