Part 2.00 Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program

7-2.01 Purpose


The purpose of the Residential Real Estate Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program [“Program”] is to (1) alleviate the financial burden on Lenders, Homeowners, and taxpayers caused by residential mortgage foreclosures; (2) foster direct and meaningful communication between Lenders and Homeowners; (3) provide an expeditious means of resolving residential mortgage foreclosure disputes, where reasonable and possible, as an alternative to foreclosure litigation under the Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law; (4) reduce the backlog of residential mortgage foreclosure cases pending in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit; (5) keep families in their homes, where reasonable and possible, or provide families that are unable to remain in their homes with a reasonable means and timeframe for vacating their homes; and (6) reduce the negative impact of foreclosures on Lake County neighborhoods and communities and on the values of properties located therein.


7-2.02 Actions Eligible for Referral to Mediation


A. Parties in all residential real estate mortgage foreclosure cases (as defined by the Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Act, 735 ILCS 5/15-1203 and 15-1219) filed in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit are eligible for mediation regardless of filing date, as long as there has not been prior participation in the program, there has not been a Judgment entered, or Motion for Summary Judgment pending.

B. Pursuant to LCR 2-2.01(C), the Plaintiff’s attorney shall file with the Clerk of the Circuit Court the appropriate Certificate of Attorney indicating whether the property is residential in nature and therefore subject to mediation as set forth herein. In addition to filing the return with the clerk, the Plaintiff’s attorney shall notify the program coordinator within five days of service that each homeowner has been served.

C. Notwithstanding LCR 7-2.02(A) above, the Presiding Judge may refer a case to mediation on Court’s own Motion.

D. Any party to the foreclosure litigation may move the Court to reconsider the Homeowner’s eligibility for the mediation program.

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7-2.03 Definitions


A. Lender shall have the same meaning as “Mortgagee” defined at 735 ILCS 5/15 – 1208.

B. Homeowner shall have the same meaning as “Mortgagor” defined at 735 ILCS 5/15–1209.

C. Housing Counseling is a one on one session(s) with the Agency for the purpose of assessing the feasibility of loan modification, informing Homeowners of their options and preparing the loss mitigation package.

D. Authorized Housing Counseling Agency [“Agency”] is a HUD certified housing counseling agency authorized by this Rule, or by the Chief Judge or the Chief Judge’s designee, to conduct Housing Counseling for Homeowners. The Affordable Housing Corporation of Lake County and the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Northern Illinois shall be authorized Agencies.

E. Mediation Notices are the Notice of Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation and a checklist of documents required for Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation.

F. Mediation Program Coordinator [“Coordinator”] refers to the person or persons authorized by the Chief Judge to administer the program.

G. Mediator refers to either:

1. a person approved by the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases and appointed by the Coordinator to conduct a mediation, or

2. an entity that has contracted with the Chief Judge to facilitate the mediation of cases subject to this Rule.

H. Participant shall refer to the Lender, Homeowner, Third Party or any attorney representing any of those parties.

I. Program Application Packet refers to a questionnaire and a document request designed by the Agency to be fulfilled by the Homeowner for the purpose of providing the Agency with the information necessary to counsel the Homeowner and to determine the loss mitigation options available to the Homeowner.

J. Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases refers to a Judge or Judges appointed by the Chief Judge to act as Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases. In the absence of the appointment of a Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases, the Presiding Judge of the Civil Division shall be assigned the responsibility.

K. Third-Party or Third-Parties refers to any other party to the residential mortgage foreclosure action, including junior lienholders and mechanics lienholders.

L. Introductory Screening is a remote or in person interview where the Agency Representative explains the program to the homeowner and provides information on how to participate in the program. During the Introductory Screening, the homeowner can schedule a housing counseling appointment to opt into the program.

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7-2.04 Filing Fee, Costs Charged, Sustainability Plan


From the effective date of this Rule, an additional filing fee of $125.00 shall be charged to all mortgage foreclosure cases filed in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit. This additional fee shall be placed in a “Foreclosure Mediation Program Fund” [“Fund”] which shall be used to provide financial support for the mediation program, including to reimburse mediation program start-up costs paid prior to the time the program becomes self-sufficient as a result of the filing fees authorized herein. No other costs will be charged to any program participant. It is contemplated that the program will be sustained as needed and be self-sufficient as a result of the filing fee.



7-2.05 Overview of Foreclosure Mediation Procedure/ Stay of Litigation


A. Every residential real estate mortgage foreclosure action shall be subject to an initial stay of forty-two days from the date of service of the Summons and Complaint, and the Homeowner shall be notified of the Foreclosure Mediation Program as provided in LCR 7-2.06.

B. If the homeowner wishes to participate in the Foreclosure Mediation Program, then the Homeowner shall contact the Agency Representative for an Introductory Screening and to schedule a Housing Counseling appointment within forty-two days from the date of the service of the Summons and Complaint. If a Housing Counseling appointment is scheduled, the foreclosure litigation shall be stayed an additional forty-five days from the date of the Introductory Screening. Cases that do not meet the preceding requirement may enter the program by Court Order.

C. Within the additional forty-five day stay, the Homeowner shall compile a loss mitigation package, submit the Program Application Packet, and complete Housing Counseling.

D. After the Housing Counseling process has been concluded, the Coordinator shall schedule an initial Mediation Conference in accordance with LCR 7-2.09. The foreclosure litigation will be stayed until the termination of mediation as provided in LCR 7-2.10, but in no event shall the stay extend longer than ninety days from the date the Plaintiff submits the Plaintiff’s checklist, obtained from the Program Coordinator or the Agency, as provided in LCR 7-2.08.

E. This Rule contemplates a stay of the foreclosure action to effectuate and accommodate the mediation process, but not to unduly prolong it or to create an incentive to delay the litigation.

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7-2.06 Service of Process and Mediation Notices


A. In all residential real estate mortgage foreclosure actions filed after the effective date of this Rule, the Lender shall attach to the Summons or Alias Summons the Mediation Notices.

B. The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit shall prepare and distribute the forms for the Mediation Notices. The Chief Judge or the Chief Judge’s designee may approve amendments to these forms.

C. Mediation Notices shall be served at the same time and in the same manner as the Summons and Complaint, and the return of service shall reflect service of these documents in the same manner as return of service of the Summons and Complaint. Plaintiff shall prepare a separate Summons for each Defendant.

D. If the Homeowner is served by publication, the Lender’s attorney shall mail the Mediation Notices to the property at issue in the foreclosure and to the last known address of the Homeowner within seven days of the publication, if that address is different from the address of the property at issue. The mortgage foreclosure action shall be subject to an initial stay of forty-two days after the first date of publication.

E. Copies of the Mediation Notices shall also be available at the Mortgage Foreclosure Help Desk that the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit operates for the benefit of self-represented Homeowners. Volunteer attorneys who staff the Mortgage Foreclosure Help Desk shall receive training that will enable them to answer general questions from Homeowners about the mediation program.

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7-2.07 E-mail Notice


A. To ensure that Notice is provided as soon as practicable, all mediation participants shall use e-mail for the purpose of sending and receiving all Notices, correspondence and other communications required by these mediation rules.

B. Participants must provide a suitable e-mail address to the Agency or Coordinator. The provision of a suitable e-mail address is required for cooperation with the Mediation Program.

C. It is understood not all participants will have a computer, computer skills and internet service. However almost all participants will have access, at no charge, to a computer at a public library, and, with support from the Agency, the capability to utilize an e-mail account. However, for good cause shown by a participant, the Agency may excuse the requirement of the provision of a suitable e-mail. If the Agency refuses, a participant may move the Court to waive this provision upon good cause shown.

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7-2.08 Housing Counseling


A. When a Homeowner schedules the initial Housing Counseling appointment, the Agency shall notify the Coordinator of the date of the appointment and the date the appointment was scheduled.

B. During Housing Counseling, the Homeowner shall complete a Program Application Packet.

C. During the additional forty-five day stay, the Agency shall provide foreclosure counseling and assist the Homeowner in completing a loss mitigation package. Once the package is complete, the Agency shall provide a copy of the package to the Lender or the Lender’s representative. The Lender must promptly acknowledge receipt of the information and must promptly review it. No other participant shall attend the Housing Counseling Appointment, nor shall the attorney of any other participant.

D. Plaintiff shall review the loan modification packet and submit the Plaintiff’s Checklist to the Coordinator within forty-five days of receipt.

E. If a participant fails to cooperate with the Agency, the Agency shall issue a Non-Cooperation Report to the Coordinator.

F. The Homeowner may withdraw from the Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program at any time. The Agency shall notify the Coordinator of such withdrawals.

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7-2.09 Scheduling and Conduct of Mediation Conference(s)


A. A Mediation Conference shall be scheduled no later than thirty-five days from the date the Coordinator receives the Plaintiff’s Checklist.

B. The Homeowner, the Homeowner’s Attorney, if any, and the Lender’s attorney shall attend the Mediation Conference in person. A representative of the Lender with authority to settle the case shall participate in person or by phone.

C. Third-Parties may attend any Mediation Conference(s). If they wish to attend or be notified, Third Parties shall contact the Coordinator and provide a suitable e-mail address as required by LCR 7-2.07. The Coordinator shall ensure that Notice of the Mediation Conference(s) and Reports are sent to interested Third Parties. Third parties are subject to the confidentiality requirements under the Illinois Uniform Mediation Act. 710 ILCS 35.

D. The Mediator shall instruct each party to provide any additional documents necessary for the Mediation Conference, including a confidentiality agreement.

E. For good cause, the Mediator may schedule an additional Mediation Conference or Conferences before terminating mediation.

F. A Mediator may determine based on the participants’ agreement or other information provided at the initial Mediation Conference that no further mediation conferences are appropriate.

G. A Mediator terminates mediation by sending a Final Report to the Coordinator, who shall send a Notice of Termination to the Homeowner, the Lender’s attorney, any Third Party who has provided an e-mail address and the Court as provided in LCR 7-2.11(B).

H. Any party may move the Court to terminate mediation for good cause shown.

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7-2.10 Termination and Report of Mediation Conference(s)


A. Mediation Reports

1. Report Required. Subject to the Uniform Mediation Act, 710 ILCS 35/1 et seq. as amended, the Mediator shall complete a Mediation Report after each session, advising if the participants reached an agreement or not.

2. Finalization of Agreement. If the parties reach an agreement, the Mediator shall submit to the Program Coordinator a Final Mediation Report and a Memorandum of Agreement that shall include a summary of terms and finalization of the agreement signed by all parties.

3. The Program Coordinator shall provide a copy of the Memorandum of Agreement to all the parties present who have provided an e-mail address.

B. Termination
1. The Coordinator shall send a Notice terminating mediation if he or she receives:

a. A Non-Cooperation Report from the Agency; or

b. A Final Report from the Mediator indicating that no further Mediation Conferences are appropriate.

c. A voluntary withdrawal by the Homeowner.

2. The Termination Notice shall be sent to the Homeowner, the Lender, Homeowner’s attorney, Lender’s attorney, any Third Party who has provided an e-mail address to the Coordinator and the Court.

3. If mediation is terminated without an agreement, the stay will be lifted and the Homeowner shall have thirty days to file with the Clerk of the Circuit Court an Appearance and Answer or other responsive pleading to the Complaint for Mortgage Foreclosure.

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7-2.11 Resources Available


A. Meaningful Access to HUD-Certified Counseling

The Program provides meaningful access to HUD-certified housing counseling services for eligible Homeowners through the Housing Counseling described in LCR 7-2.03(C).

B. Meaningful Access to Pro Bono Legal Representation

The Program provides meaningful access to pro bono Legal Representation for eligible Homeowners by advising Homeowners at the Introductory Screening and at the Mortgage Foreclosure Help Desk of the local pro bono service agency and its criteria for the provision of pro bono services.

C. Meaningful Language Access

The Program provides meaningful language access for program participants Introductory Screening, Housing Counseling sessions, and Mediation Conferences will utilize the Language Line translation service currently in use by the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit or other remote translation services as practicable. In addition, Introductory Screenings will be available in Spanish, upon request.

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7-2.12 Appointment, Qualifications and Compensation of the Mediators


A. Mediators shall be appointed by the Program Coordinator, who shall maintain the schedule of cases set for mediation and the assigned Mediators. The Chief Judge may enter into a contract with an entity to economically and efficiently provide the mediation services subject to all Court Rules and Procedures.

B. The Coordinator shall maintain a list of Mediators who have been approved by the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases as foreclosure Mediators. Coordinator shall also provide Supervising Judge with Mediator performance statistics and make recommendations about Mediators continued service with the Program.

C. Any person is eligible to apply to serve as a Mediator for the purposes of this Rule, if the applicant:

1. Demonstrates completion of a forty hour civil mediation course and a mortgage foreclosure mediation training program approved by the Chief Judge; and

2. Is a member in good standing of the Illinois bar or a retired judge or a certified public accountant or a licensed real estate broker, and

3. Provides satisfactory proof of professional liability insurance covering the mediation process to the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases.

D. The Coordinator must be provided with documentation concerning any changes relating to professional licensures, and concerning any changes in professional liability insurance covering the mediation process.

E. The Mediator shall comply with such general standards established and promulgated in writing by the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases. Mediators shall comply with the Uniform Mediation Act, 710 ILCS 35/1 et seq. as amended. A Mediator shall not mediate a matter that presents a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest arises when any relationship between the Mediator and the mediation participants or the subject matter of the dispute compromises or appears to compromise the Mediator’s impartiality. A Mediator shall not be involved in any capacity other than Mediator in any case to which the Mediator is assigned. A Mediator may not use any information obtained during the mediation process for any purpose outside of mediation unless required to do so by law.

F. The eligibility of each Mediator to retain the status of a Mediator shall be periodically reviewed by the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases and in any event no longer than eighteen months after date of appointment. Additionally, failure to adhere to standards set forth above may result in the removal of the Mediator by the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases.

G. Mediators shall be compensated as funding allows and as set by Administrative Order. The Chief Judge may enter into a contract with a Mediator to economically and efficiently provide the mediation services subject to all Court Rules and Procedures.

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7-2.13 Training for Judges, Key Court Personnel and Volunteers


All mortgage foreclosure Judges, key court personnel and volunteers designated by the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases shall complete training regarding mortgage foreclosure mediation as approved by the Chief Judge.


7-2.14 Discovery


Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, Discovery shall be stayed until the conclusion of the mediation process, except that the parties may request documents or be required to provide documents as provided in this Rule.

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7-2.15 Confidentiality


All mediation communications as defined in 710 ILCS 35/2(2), other than executed settlement agreements, shall be exempt from Discovery and shall be confidential and inadmissible as evidence in the underlying cause of action as provided in the Uniform Mediation Act, 710 ILCS 35/1 et seq. and as amended. Subject to the foregoing, the Mediator may not disclose information obtained during the mediation process, unless required to do so by law.

7-2.16 Immunity


Mediators and other program participants shall be entitled to such immunity as may be provided by law.


7-2.17 Mechanism for Reporting to the Supreme Court on the Mediation Program


A. The Clerk of the Circuit Court shall record the results of mediation in the appropriate court record in cooperation with the Coordinator. The Coordinator shall also maintain statistics indicating the number of cases sent to mediation and the results of the mediation process and shall provide this data to the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases to facilitate review by the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of the effectiveness of the program.

B. Any information or data retained by the Court shall be provided to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts at such times and in such manner as may be required.

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7-2.18 Cooperation with the Program and Sanctions


A. All participants shall at all times cooperate with the Agency and the Mediator, including appearing promptly as directed for appointments and mediation, communicating as directed, engaging in appropriate behavior at all times, and promptly preparing a loss mitigation package, or tendering or acknowledging receipt of or reviewing documents or information as directed. Failure to cooperate as required shall result in the issuance of a Non-Cooperation Report from the Agency, the Mediator, or Program Coordinator and the mediation shall be terminated and the stay shall be lifted. Additionally, sanctions may be imposed by the Court on motion or sua sponte.

B. Both the Lender and the Homeowner are required to attend and participate in the mediation process in good faith and the failure of the Lender or the Homeowner to do so may result in sanctions against that party. Good faith participation means attendance at all scheduled conferences and compliance with all program requirements and deadlines, unless a party has good cause for failing to attend or comply.

C. For Lenders, sanctions may include, but are not limited to, dismissal of the action by the Court, with the Lender unable to recover its costs of re-filing in any subsequent foreclosure action.

D. For Homeowners, sanctions may include, but are not limited to, termination of the mediation and referral of the case back to the Court.

E. Upon written Motion, additional sanctions for either party may include but are not limited to reasonable attorney’s fees, fines, and lost wages attributable to the misconduct.
 

7-2.19 Return to Mediation Following a Change in Circumstances


A. If a Homeowner has a substantial change of circumstances, the Homeowner may move the Court at any time before the expiration of the Homeowner’s right of redemption to return to mediation.

B. The Motion shall contain an explanation of what circumstances have changed and a Certification from the Agency that the Homeowner has met with the Agency and the Agency has concluded that a return to mediation is appropriate.


7-2.20 Termination or Suspension of Program


The Chief Judge or the Supervising Judge for Mediation of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases may, at any time, suspend or discontinue this program.


7-2.21 Effective Date


These Rules shall be effective sixty days after approval by the Illinois Supreme Court. Rule revisions shall be effective immediately upon approval by the Illinois Supreme Court.

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