JIS News

Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe has come out in strong support of mandatory mediation as part of the process in seeking to resolve civil cases.
Justice Wolfe’s position was made public at a recent King’s House function where Governor-General, His Excellency The Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke declared 2004, the National Year of Dispute Resolution.
In an interview with JIS News, the Chief Justice explained that provisions had originally been made for compulsory mediation, in the 2003 Civil Procedures Rules. However, not everyone was in favour of its implementation.
Currently, mediation before trial is a voluntary exercise, affording members of the legal fraternity the opportunity to test this method before embracing it as a compulsory measure.
The Chief Justice cited several benefits to be derived from the mediation exercise. For example, it would crystallize the issues for the disputing parties. Hence, instead of having 10 issues to deal with at trial, it might simply be one. Likewise, a trial that would have originally lasted for three weeks could be reduced to a week, with the aid of mediation.
Justice Wolfe told the gathering that lawyers have been trained in mediation and were working towards taking cases through this process before going to trial.
“The whole idea of mediation is to get the parties to participate in the resolution to the dispute, and that is why we the judges of Jamaica support wholeheartedly the whole concept of mediation, because if anything is needed in Jamaica at this time, [it] is a method of settling our dispute without rancour,” he said.
He added that people were of the view that at the conclusion of a trial, the judge pronounced a judgement, and there was a winner and a loser. “Not many losers, if any, are ever satisfied with what is pronounced,” he said.
The Chief Justice argued that judgements handed down by a judge did not settle all disputes, and therefore effective mediation was necessary in helping to solve many disagreements.

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