(a) Availability. Any person who is notified that a proceeding may or will be instituted against him or her, or any party to a proceeding already instituted, may, at any time, propose in writing an offer of settlement.
(b) Procedure. An offer of settlement shall state that it is made pursuant to this section; shall recite or incorporate as a part of the offer the provisions of paragraphs (c) (4) and (5) of this section; shall be signed by the person making the offer, not by counsel; and shall be submitted to the interested division.
(c) Consideration of offers of settlement. (1) Offers of settlement shall be considered by the interested division when time, the nature of the proceedings, and the public interest permit.
(2) Where a hearing officer is assigned to a proceeding, the interested division and the party submitting the offer may request that the hearing officer express his or her views regarding the appropriateness of the offer of settlement. A request for the hearing officer to express his or her views on an offer of settlement or otherwise to participate in a settlement conference constitutes a waiver by the persons making the request of any right to claim bias or prejudgment by the hearing officer based on the views expressed.
(3) The interested division shall present the offer of settlement to the Commission with its recommendation, except that, if the division's recommendation is unfavorable, the offer shall not be presented to the Commission unless the person making the offer so requests.
(4) By submitting an offer of settlement, the person making the offer waives, subject to acceptance of the offer:
(i) All hearings pursuant to the statutory provisions under which the proceeding is to be or has been instituted;
(ii) The filing of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law;
(iii) Proceedings before, and an initial decision by, a hearing officer;
(iv) All post-hearing procedures; and
(v) Judicial review by any court.
(5) By submitting an offer of settlement the person further waives:
(i) Such provisions of the Rules of Practice or other requirements of law as may be construed to prevent any member of the Commission's staff from participating in the preparation of, or advising the Commission as to, any order, opinion, finding of fact, or conclusion of law to be entered pursuant to the offer; and
(ii) Any right to claim bias or prejudgment by the Commission based on the consideration of or discussions concerning settlement of all or any part of the proceeding.
(6) If the Commission rejects the offer of settlement, the person making the offer shall be notified of the Commission's action and the offer of settlement shall be deemed withdrawn. The rejected offer shall not constitute a part of the record in any proceeding against the person making the offer, provided, however, that rejection of an offer of settlement does not affect the continued validity of waivers pursuant to paragraph (c)(5) of this section with respect to any discussions concerning the rejected offer of settlement.
(7) Final acceptance of any offer of settlement will occur only upon the issuance of findings and an order by the Commission.