Chambers to introduce ‘Mediation’ for commercial dispute resolution

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By 2017-01-10

Introduction of 'Commercial Mediation' will offer Sri Lanka's business community an optional dispute resolution mechanism in addition to litigation and arbitration, both of which are riddled with delay and expense. Mediation, if practised in strict compliance with its intrinsic principles offers a process that will hopefully be devoid of those evils, said Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) CEO, Dhara Wijayatilake. She made this observation, at a preliminary briefing convened by the CCC last week to discuss steps required to provide mediation services for commercial dispute resolution in terms of the Commercial Mediation Centre of Sri Lanka Act No. 44 of 2000 as amended by Act No. 37 of 2005.

The briefing was attended by members appointed to the Board of Management of the Centre by the Minister of Justice on the nomination of the CCC, the National Chamber of Commerce (NCC), the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCISL) and the Ceylon......National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) and other representatives from private sector companies. Representatives of The Asia Foundation (TAF), which has provided assistance for the Community Mediation programme of the Ministry of Justice from its inception in 1990, was also present at the briefing and provided technical support.

Wijayatilake observed that if Sri Lanka is serious about inspiring investor- confidence, there was a need to look at alternative dispute resolution methods that are more efficient and effective than the adversarial process available through litigation. The business community looks for processes that have the potential to deliver effectiveness and efficiency.

TAF resident representative, Dinesha Wickremanayake spoke of the importance of training for Mediators and highlighted the assistance given to the Ministry of Justice to train Mediators for community mediation, as well as for special land mediations conducted in the North.

Speaking on the current status of community mediation in Sri Lanka, TAF Senior Technical Advisor, Ramani Jayasundere explained that Mediation Boards function in every DS Division in the Island to resolve community disputes. She presented statistics that pointed to a greater use of community Mediation Boards for the resolution of 'money matters' after the increase of the monetary threshold which required that disputes upto Rs 500,000, must mandatorily be referred to these Boards before action could be filed in a court of law.

The Board of Management of the Centre also includes a nominee of the Minister of Justice and a nominee of the Minister of Industry and Commerce.
The members also discussed several steps the board would need to pursue to offer mediation services to the private sector and noted that training of mediators would be an essential step and that the four chambers would have to ensure collectively that mediation services are sustained, if successful.

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