A Canadian jurist recently addressed a number of Guyanese jurists on his country's experience with Court-Connected Mediation and case management principles at a seminar held at the Supreme Court Library.
Court-Connected Mediation is another term for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is the mechanism generally used for resolving disputes without the need for a full court trial. In civil cases, ADR methods can include arbitration, mediation, negotiation, judicial settlement and case conferences.
Robert Beaudoin is a Case Management Master for the Superior Court of Justice, in Ottawa and a recognised international expert on these issues.
His audience included the chairman of the committee appointed by the Chancellor Desiree Bernard to look at the introduction of Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures, Senior Counsel Peter Britton, who chaired the session, the Chancellor, Justices of Appeal Claudette Singh and Ian Chang, and the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Sita Ramlal.
Beaudoin, in his address, related the way the Canadian courts tackled the huge backlog of cases and long delays in dealing with those cases by the introduction of new ideas and methods. At the time the Canadian experience was not dissimilar to the conditions now obtaining in Guyana.
A release from Britton's Chambers said that Beaudoin's visit was sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as part of its ongoing study and planning for the possible introduction of ADR for commercial cases in Guyana. The lecture was a collaborative effort of the Carter Center Guyana which is working to research and introduce appropriate ADR options under the auspices of the USAID's Democracy and Governance Programme - Justice/Rule of Law and Strengthening Civil Society.
Britton's committee is charged with conducting research on the development of ADR mechanisms in Guyana and will be reporting its findings and recommendations to the Chancellor at the end of May. Stabroek News understands that former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Kenneth George, who was appointed by the Chancellor to revise the Rules of the High Court governing civil procedure, has recommended the use of ADR processes and intensified case management to address the backlog of cases.
The members of Britton's committee include: Justice of Appeal Singh, Puisne judges Claudette La Bennett and BS Roy; Magistrates Fizgerald Yaw, Melissa Robertson-Ogle and Adrian Thompson as well representatives of the Guyana Bar Association, the Berbice Bar Association and the Chambers of the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.