Court-Annexed Mediation Pilot Project

As the third branch of the Government, the Judiciary is charged with resolving disputes and administering justice in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of Barbados.

In Part 25.1of the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2008 the Court is mandated in civil cases, inter alia, to further the overriding objective to deal with cases justly by actively:

“(c) encouraging the parties to use any appropriate form of dispute resolution including, in particular, mediation, if the Court considers it appropriate, and facilitating the use of such procedures.”

The Civil Procedure Rules therefore clearly recognize that many of the disputes which find their way into the court system as civil proceedings need not proceed to a full trial with all its attendant expenses and delays, but could benefit, if the Court considers it appropriate, from the use of one or more of the recognized dispute resolution modalities, including mediation.

Courts the world over have already seen the wisdom of introducing courtconnected ADR programmes as a means of helping litigants to settle cases and enabling them to reach settlements in a manner that feels fair and just. Courtconnected ADR programmes are also completely consistent with the overriding objective of Civil Procedure Rules to deal with cases justly and enable Courts to achieve the following strategic goals:
(a) Improving the pace of litigation by promoting the early and fair resolution of disputes
(b)Providing litigants with outcomes that meet the parties needs;
(c) Enhancing litigants’ satisfaction with dispute resolution in the justice system;
(d) Improving access to justice;
(e) Reducing the cost of litigation to the parties and to the court system.

In keeping with these objectives, the Chief Justice in consultation with the Judges will issue a Practice Direction the object of which is to establish a Supreme CourtAnnexed Mediation Pilot Project which will provide litigants with the possibility of having their disputes confidentially mediated by a trained mediator selected from a roster of trained and certified mediators published by the Court.

What is mediation? Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which a neutral third party (a mediator) facilitates communication between the parties to litigation in order to assist them to arrive at a settlement that meets their mutual needs. Unlike a judge, the mediator does not decide the dispute but is trained to leave control of the outcome of the mediation process with the parties.

At what stage should mediation occur? Ideally mediation or some other ADR modality should take place before resort is had to the Courts. However, once litigation is filed in the Court system, the proceedings will become eligible for
mediation at the hearing of a case management conference held before a Master or a Judge who, in keeping with the overriding objective of the Civil Procedure Rules, will actively encourage the parties to participate in a mediation exercise.

Who will conduct the mediation? As part of the Court-Annexed Mediation Pilot Project, mediators will be selected from a cadre of trained and certified mediators listed on a Roster of Mediators published by the Court. Biographical information on each mediator listed on the Court’s Roster of Mediators is available by clicking the appropriate link.

What types of disputes are eligible for mediation? Potentially, all civilproceedings are amenable to mediation. The following proceedings have, however, been expressly excluded from the scope of the Practice Direction, namely: land title proceedings, insolvency proceedings (including winding-up of companies), contentious probate proceedings, proceedings when the High Court is acting as a prize court; and any other proceedings in the Supreme Court instituted under any enactment, in so far as rules made under that enactment regulate those proceedings. Matrimonial causes and applications brought under the Family Law Act, Cap. 214 and the Family Law Rules have been expressly included among the matters eligible for mediation under the Practice Direction establishing the Court-Annexed Mediation Pilot Project.