ADR by September

Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and Chair of the ADR Committee, Madame Justice Sandra Mason at a press briefing today.
Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and Chair of the ADR Committee, Madame Justice Sandra Mason at a press briefing today.

Barbados is to have its first Alternative Dispute Resolution Court by September this year.

In making the announcement this morning during a press briefing at the Supreme Court Complex on White Park, St. Michael, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson said a number of rooms within the existing court facility would be used to house the mediation consultations.

Sir Marston also disclosed that the two-phase pilot project would see 24 Barbadians being trained from Monday to work with the new ADR system. He said two experts from the ADR Foundation of Jamaica were coming to conduct the training sessions — Paul Hines and Ursula Khan.

“Training will begin with interviews to find out what level each person is at, to put them on the roster,” pointed out the Chief Justice.

He said a total of 60 applicants who are trained at various levels of ADR, were sent to Hines and Khana and they short-listed 24. “This will not be the end of the process. The process will comprise two parts. The first part is essentially finding out where each person is in terms of level of training, level of exposure and expertise,” explained the chief judicial officer.

Sir Marston said the second phase insists on practical experience.

“So each person is going to be subjected to at least 10 practicums. A practicum is basically going to comprise a ‘live’ case with real people… The trainee is going to be permitted to do a mediation in the presence of an expert or senior trainer and after the session has been completed, the trainer will then critique the actual performance of the trainee,” he added.

The Chief Justice warned that as in matrimonial cases, the emotional component would overshadow the legal aspect, and cautioned prospective mediators they must be psychically prepared. Insisting that ADR was not the solution or panacea for all problems, Sir Marston made it clear that it was just one of the many measures he was implementing in order to significantly reduce the “heavy” backlog of cases clogging up the court system. With this system, he noted, his thrust to effect a smoother flow of cases, along with clearing the congestion, the alternative dispute resolution method would contribute to this goal.

“ADR allows for people to solve their own cases themselves rather than leave them to a judge who may favour the plaintiff or may favour the defendant or favour neither person. So you end up with neither person being happy,” declared the island’s top judicial officer.

He suggested with the pilot project, at least some person will be able to resolve their cases. Sir Marston said the pilot period was still be worked out. However, he stated that at the end they want to do a statistical assessment of the numbers who pass through the mediation process, how many matters had been resolved, how many were going back to litigation and what was the success rate of the programme. (EJ)

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