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TWENTY-eight key persons within the judicial system and legal profession have met here to identify ways by which Court cases could be expeditiously resolved thereby reducing the current backlog of cases.
Chairing the meeting Saturday was Chancellor of the Judiciary Ms. Desiree Bernard.
A release from the Chancellor noted the participants showed a great deal of interest in the advantages offered by the Alternative Dispute Resolution.
As a result, a Planning Committee comprising representatives of the Judiciary, Magistracy, legal profession, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Attorney General's Chambers was established to explore the concept further.
The Chancellor added that the Alternative Dispute Resolution often referred to as `ADR' is the term generally used for methods of resolving disputes without the need for Court trial.
"ADR has been successfully adopted in many countries, where up to 90 per cent of civil cases are settled out of Court before trial. This not only saves a great deal of expense for the parties, but also saves the parties potentially years of waiting before a case can be heard by a judge in a busy Court. Resolving cases well before they come to trial has the benefit of reducing the load of cases in the Court system, and therefore will in the longer term result in a more efficient Court system, with shorter waiting periods for cases to come to trial, if they cannot be settled," the Chancellor outlined.
Ms. Bernard added that there is a wide variety of ADR methods that could be adopted to resolve differences among parties out of Court before trial.
For civil cases, these include arbitration, mediation, negotiation, judicial settlement and case conferences.
On the criminal side, ADR can include methods for Police to address minor offences without the need for an arrest and criminal charge (such as victim-offender mediation), alternative sentences such as community service and plea bargaining to avoid bringing matters to trial when appropriate.
The Planning Committee will conduct research into the various options and report back to the group by the end of May this year.
Saturday's meeting was held in collaboration with the Carter Center, Guyana, which conducted an ADR feasibility study to determine the potential for its introduction in Guyana.
The work of the Carter Center in this area is under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Democracy and Governance Program - Justice/Rule of Law and Strengthening Civil Society, the release said.
The Carter Center will continue to work with the Planning Committee, the Chancellor, the Chief Justice and the wider judicial and legal communities to select and support appropriate activities to promote the use of ADR methods in Guyana, it added.