Mediation refresher training concludes in Berbice -facilitated by the JURIST Project in collaboration with MSI, CCJ and funded by Canada
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, May 24, 2018
Mediators in East Berbice-Corentyne underwent two days of intense refresher training aimed at strengthening and sharpening their skills.
The training was facilitated by the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project in collaboration with Mediation Services International (MSI) and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and funded by the Canadian Government. It is hoped that the workshop which was held at the Little Rock Conference room from May 21 – 22, will establish renewed interest for mediation in Berbice.
Opening the workshop, Chancellor and Chief Justice of Guyana Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards underscored the importance of mediation. She noted that the practice, which started in the ‘Ancient County’ many years ago, was an important tool that “would significantly reduce case build up.”
She explained, “Mediation is a process whereby a mutual third party assists parties in arriving at a resolution to their dispute; therefore, mediation becomes a vital tool in the reduction of case backlog as it assists us in the judiciary in our mandate for the delivery of justice, and greater access to the justice system.”
The Chief Justice further stated that the new procedural rules had brought court-connected mediation to the front burner, and that the rules in Section 2601 grants the court the power to order the parties involved in disputes to participate in mediation and those that are non-compliant, can see their cases thrown out.
Justice Cummings-Edwards cited examples of matters suited for mediation such as landlord and tenants, personal injuries, employment, land disputes, commercial contracts, matrimonial issues, commercial and civil disputes and labour issues. She reminded the participants of the role they play and the importance of being neutral.
Mediation Coordinator Guyana Judiciary, Colin Chichester in an overview of mediation locally, stated that in the initial stages, in 2003 only attorneys were involved in the mediation procedures. However, with the addition of surveyors, teachers, social workers and other upstanding individuals there has been some level of success in the procedures. He noted however that there are areas of improvement which the workshop seeks to address.
He explained, “Since the doors open we have had 880 matters referred to mediation. 775 were recommended by the court while the others 105 came from attorneys or clients themselves. 228 agreements were reached, unsuccessfully return to court were 338 which is unfortunate which we seem to have far more non-resolved mediation than resolved mediation given the fact that Guyanese are known to be very peaceful but we are working on having that gap bridged. 45 matters settled while the mediation was processing and 95 matters returned to court even before participants agreed to start the process of mediation. These figures indicate we are not yet where we should be. Other areas we have learnt have a high rate of settlement, so, we should strive to arrive at those levels of settlement.”
Chichester however, noted that despite the high percentage of unsuccessful cases that were returned to the courts the mediation process allowed the parties involved to ventilate their issues. This, he added, has been instrumental in bringing the matters closer to resolution.
Meanwhile Attorney-at-Law and Mediators of Mediation Services International, Jamela Ali stated that the biggest benefits of mediation are cost reduction and speedy resolution of disputes. However, she noted that unlike Demerara, the Berbice Mediation Center was underutilised. She hoped that the refresher course will rejuvenate interest in the process.
She also reminded participants that mediation skills can be applied internationally and even though some of the participants of the workshop may not utilise their skill in a court-related setting, it can be applied in their everyday life situations.
The attorney at law stated, “Your mediation skill will equip you with the ability to listen effectively and to develop positive communication with increased mediation’s there will be fewer trials for Judges and the backlog to be reduced for the litigants it will be less costly, faster resolution of their disputes and preservation of business relationship.”
By: Nafeeza Yahya
Images by Nafeeza Yahya.