The word mediation is one that the Dominican public should get used to hearing in the coming year.
A campaign was launched today by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to make the peoples of its jurisdiction more amenable to the practice of having a middleman to help resolve disputes.
This will no doubt reduce backlogs and delays in the burdened courts of the OECS.
The practice of mediation in civil disputes is not a new one and has been a part of the legal system for some time but law professionals say it is underused resulting in a strain on legal resources.
Her Ladyship the Hon Justice Gertel Thom Justice of Appeal at the OECS Supreme Court says it’s time to remind litigants of this option.
“Our communities have long been accustomed to disputes being settled in the courts by judicial officers. Change as we all know is not often readily embraced more so when it is not clearly understood. It is against this background that the Mediation Public Awareness Campaign is being launched in the Commonwealth of Dominica.”
Legal professionals of the OECS believe that opposing parties are highly likely to come to agreements in one-to-one discussions with a middleman helping bring the two to a mutually beneficial solution.
Her Ladyship the Hon Chief Justice, Dame Janice Perreira was represented by Hon Justice of Appeal at the OECS Supreme Court, His Lordship Davidson Baptiste.
“Several cases are amenable to mediation. These include land disputes. Personal injury cases, breach of contract, matters involving wills, employment, family disputes and landlord/tenant disputes.”
The Mediation Public Awareness Campaign is being steered by a committee based in St. Lucia but chaired by Justice Bernie Stephenson.
The awareness campaign will include town hall meetings, panel discussions on radio and tv and school outreach programmes. The target groups are the business and legal communities, community, church and service groups, schools and college students and the general public.
So far, the Mediation Public Awareness Campaign has been launched in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and now Dominica. It will roll out in all member states of the OECS Supreme Court. The campaign is being financed by the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening Project.
At the campaign’s launch earlier today, 14 local professionals who have completed the certification course were appointed legal mediators.