02 Feb Running an Effective Court-Annexed Mediation Programme
Not only has the use of mediation been found to be expeditious and cost-effective in resolving disputes, it is also a confidential process that has the capacity to empower the disputing parties by placing decision-making in their hands. In appreciation of some of these benefits, court-annexed mediation has been increasingly embraced in numerous jurisdictions worldwide as an effective case management process. In this system, mediation is applied within the court system where cases are referred to a mediation process, conducted mainly by officers of the court. In addition to an enabling legal environment, an effectively run court-annexed mediation programme calls for an elaborate plan that includes extensive training for the mediators, comprehensive consultation, public awareness and sensitization for court users and members of the public, close monitoring and evaluation, and the collection of statistics on performance.
The International Law Institute – African Centre for Legal Excellence (ILI-ACLE) has been conducting training on mediation and other ADR techniques for close to 20 years and, under a Millennium Challenge Corporation civil legal technical assistance project, supported the Lesotho Judiciary in establishing a mandatory court-annexed mediation (CAM) programme in the High Court. Following exhaustive consultations, ILI-ACLE supported the drafting of CAM rules and developed and oversaw an implementation plan that included training for the registrars, an extensive and wide-range of public awareness initiatives for the various stakeholders, monitoring and evaluating progress over its first year of implementation and providing technical support, amongst other activities.
From January 25 – 26, 2018, ILI-ACLE facilitated a one and a half day programme on court-annexed mediation on the invitation of the Botswana Industrial Court as part of its week-long retreat on case management held in Kasane, the gateway to Chobe National Park and River in Botswana. The Industrial Court has recently introduced a court-annexed mediation programme and the sessions were an opportunity for ILI-ACLE to share lessons from its experiences in Lesotho and other jurisdictions, as well as introduce the judges and registrars to key mediation principles and processes. Facilitated by Hon. Justice James Ogoola, emeritus Principal Judge of Uganda and former ILI-ACLE Chief of Party of the Lesotho project, sessions included discussions on practical approaches to mediation (including role-plays), the role of judges in mediation and comparative experiences in implementing court-annexed mediation.