Dispute Resolution Foundation to Celebrate 15-Year Anniversary


Several activities have been planned to mark the Dispute Resolution Foundation’s (DRF) 15th anniversary this year, which has also been proclaimed National Year for Dispute Resolution.
The activities include the launch of parish exhibitions and a schools’ competition; Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) workshops for sports and entertainment leaders; a one-day conference for tourism leaders; a gala awards function in July; a heroes of peace family fun day and concert in October, and a thanksgiving service in December. Several parish mediation, and peace and justice centre visits are also scheduled to take place.
Details of the events were unveiled during a DRF media briefing at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday (Jan. 7).
Board member of the DRF, John Bassie said this year, the DRF will also be placing emphasis on enhancing the delivery of court and commercial mediation services under Part 74 of the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules, which provides for most civil cases listed for trial in the High Court, to be automatically referred to mediation, once the first defence is filed. A mediator is either selected from a designated roster within 35 days, or one is appointed by the DRF, and a date, thereafter, set for the parties involved to meet. Attorneys and clients duly authorised to settle the matter, are required to attend and endeavour to reach a settlement.
Other activities scheduled for roll out, Mr. Bassie disclosed, are the publication of a seminal study on the attitudes, concepts, and prevalence of conflicts, and violence reduction initiatives in some 30 schools; and the institution of a number of community-based justice programmes and service, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice.
Regionally, Mr. Bassie said plans are also being made to consolidate work and partnerships established with fellow stakeholders in Belize, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bahamas, and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). He further advised that the Foundation will seek to establish formal relationships with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to provide services to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Caribbean Court of Justice, as well as in matters pertaining to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Noting security, violence, and governance; and business disputes arising from global and local economic developments, as the two main challenges which Jamaica will have to contend with during 2009, the DRF director said that in addressing these matters, there will be need to strengthen existing partnerships, and establish new ones with several key stakeholders. These include: the Ministry of Justice; the Caribbean chapter of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; private corporations; international development partners; communities; and young people.
Chairman of the DRF, Novar McDonald, who also addressed 0the briefing, noted several significant achievements, which the organisation has attained during its 15 years. These, he pointed out, include: the establishment of 16 service points across the island to deal with disputes arising in communities; implementation of dispute resolution initiatives in some 30 target schools in Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and St. James; implementation of the school suspension programme, which aims to provide youngsters who have been suspended from school with the necessary support and channels through which they can discuss matters contributing to the disruption in their attending school, while ensuring that they are in good stead with their academics.
Other achievements, which the Chairman highlighted, include a 61 per cent success rate in the cases in which the DRF has mediated, and extensive training programmes undertaken in the wider Caribbean.
Counsellor, and Head of Development Cooperation at the Canadian Agency for International Development (CIDA), one of the DRF’s key partners, Lorriane Belisle, noted that both organisations have had a long-standing relationship through the Foundation’s work funded by CIDA. Some of these activities include: training of correctional officers and inmates at the Tower Street Correctional Centre, and South Camp Rehab Centre in Kingston, in dispute resolution in the 1990s; design and delivery of several initiatives under the Social Conflict and Legal Reform Project, inclusive of: the establishment of community Peace and Justice Centres in Trench Town, Kingston, and Flankers, Montego Bay, St. James; and development of a Restorative Justice Policy for Jamaica.
“CIDA is committed to supporting the Government of Jamaica’s justice reform agenda, and values the DRF’s role as a key partner in these reforms, based on its track record of high quality, appropriate, and innovative services,” Mrs. Belisle said.
The DRF was also presented with a cheque for $200,000 by Manager of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at Carreras Limited, Rhys Campbell, which will go towards enhancing the work and activities being undertaken at the Spanish Town Peace and Justice Centre.
On Tuesday (Jan. 6), Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, declared 2009 as the National Year of Dispute Resolution, during a ceremony at King’s House.

JIS Social