Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, says the Government will be pushing for more persons to make use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in settling disputes as the Administration seeks to position Jamaica as an international centre for arbitration and mediation.
He said that the Government wants to see greater use of ADR by neighbours, communities, businesses, and other parties that are in conflict.
“I want to emphasize that starting now and going into 2021, the Ministry of Justice will be focusing on alternative dispute resolution to settle matters right across every nook and cranny of Jamaica and also in the courts. We want Jamaica to be a dispute resolution centre for the Western Hemisphere and, I dare say, for the world,” he said.
Consequently, he noted that more persons will be trained to become mediators.
“We’re going to be training schoolteachers, pastors, community leaders, so that they can be a part of the process of settling disputes before they descend into abuse and violence and eventually ending up in the court. When they get to the courts, we’re hoping that the judges, not only in the Supreme Court, but in the parish courts, will refer these matters to mediation,” he said.
The Minister was speaking following the signing of a Cooperation Framework Agreement between the Jamaican International Arbitration Centre Limited (JIACL) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) at the JCC’s office in Kingston on Wednesday (Dec. 18).
Arbitration is a method by which parties to a dispute agree to have an independent third party of their choice mediate and make a final and binding decision to settle their dispute.
Under the cooperation framework, JIACL and the JCC will jointly promote the use of ADR across the island and in all sectors of the economy.
They will deliver capacity-building for ADR programmes, which will include collaborations with other local, regional and international parties, with a view of ensuring that a cadre of local practitioners is equipped to offer mediation services in setting local and international disputes.
Minister Chuck hailed the signing as a significant step in the country’s push for ADR.
“I am happy to witness this signing and we are really hoping that this will position Jamaica as a centre for arbitration and mediation.
“We want more people across the world to do business here and …to see Jamaica as a place to invest and, indeed, when they get into disputes, then they know they can use mediation and arbitration to settle the matters rather than having to take it to court,” he said.
Minister Chuck argued that as a centre for arbitration, Jamaica could see increased earnings to the business sector, tourism, legal services, among other areas.
He pointed out that in Singapore, where arbitration flourishes, some of the major legal firms get over 50 per cent of their revenue from ADR.
The Justice Minister said that the framework will also complement the country’s Arbitration Bill that was passed in the Senate in April 2017.
The Bill, he said, is based on the guidelines of the Model Law published by the United Nations Commission on International Trade LAW (UNCITRAL), and will operate in conjunction with the provisions of the Arbitration (Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Awards Act and the Investment Disputes Awards (Enforcement) Act.
“With its passage, Jamaica has joined the large number of countries that have adopted the Model Law and, as such, will benefit from the internationally agreed best practices that are disseminated and promoted by UNCITRAL on an ongoing basis,” the Minister said.
President of the JCC, Lloyd Distant Jr., while highlighting the benefits of embracing ADR in easing the pressure on the court system, noted that it is equally important to consider the economic benefits that being the center of dispute resolution in the hemisphere will bring for Jamaica.
Secretary-General for the JAIAC, Dr. Christopher Malcolm, for his part, said he is encouraged by the movement that is taking place with regard to ADR.
He said that more persons around the world are recognizing that the court system is not able to serve all of their needs and that mediation provides them with greater control of the process and the solution.