Justice Ministry seeks Cabinet approval to pay mediators from Legal Aid fundsTuesday, September 28, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, says the ministry will seek approval from Cabinet to use legal aid to pay mediators in the parish courts.
“Mediation is a very important alternative dispute resolution method used in the Supreme Court, but not used as much in the parish courts because persons can't afford it,” he noted.
He was addressing the ministry's virtual quarterly press briefing on Tuesday.
Mediation is a procedure in which the parties involved in a conflict discuss their dispute with the assistance of a trained impartial third party, who assists them in reaching a settlement.
The dispute may either be pending in a court or, potentially, may be filed in court. Cases suitable for mediation are disputes involving commercial transactions, personal injury, construction, workers compensation, labour or community relations, divorce, domestic relations, employment, or any other matters that do not involve complex procedural or evidentiary issues.
Chuck said that alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and restorative justice, have the potential to increase the efficiency of the nation's courts and “significantly reduce” the backlog of cases.
He said that between January and August 2021, the courts referred 1,511 cases to restorative justice centres, of which 1,295 were settled.
Chuck said that using mediation and restorative justice are also effective ways of ensuring that parties involved in conflicts are healed.
“We currently have 18 restorative justice centres and, shortly, we'll be opening three additional ones in Pembroke Hall and Greenwich Farm in Kingston, and Bunker's Hill in Clarendon. We hope all three will be placed there before the end of the year,” he said, noting that the facilities will help to restore peace to the communities.
Meanwhile, Chuck said that “significant headway has been made by the Chief Justice in his consultations and strategies (to improve the clearance rate) in the parish courts. We're close to 90 per cent of the cases in the parish courts being dealt with within five months”.