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The Dispute Resolution Centre (DRC) has been the premier provider of Commercial Mediations and Arbitrations in the country for over fourteen years with experience in the energy, construction, finance and business sectors.

It was therefore in keeping with the Centre’s core objectives of championing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) on a national, business and social level, via its training and dispute resolution referral system, that the Centre approached the Judiciary regarding the design and implementation of a Court-Annexed Mediation Service Delivery Model.

Talks with the Judiciary began one year ago and the Honourable Chief Justice, Ivor Archie welcomed the pilot project which will run for six months effective March 2010.  Further, at public forum hosted by the Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce in February, both Mrs. Angella Persad, Chamber President and Chief Justice Ivor Archie, echoed their keen support and interest in the success of the Court Annexed Mediation Pilot Project.

In fact, the experiences of many regional and international jurisdictions have demonstrated that court-annexed mediation increases access to justice for all. It supports and complements court reform and assists in alleviating backlogs, reducing delays, managing case loads and streamlining procedures to accelerate case disposition.

The Centre held an Orientation on Tuesday 23rd February, 2010 to kick-off the training and selection of the first group of mediators who will be involved at this stage of the project.  However, it is the intention to engage the mediation and legal communities to ensure the success of the pilot.  Of critical importance also would be the support of the judges and other judicial officers in selecting “mediatable” cases and in gently persuading the disputants towards mediation.

Tom Kalpatoo, Mediation Practice Specialist and Consultant, has been working with the Dispute Resolution Centre over the last nine months to bring this project to an implementable stage.  He commented that he was drawn to the Centre as a credible, professional and recognised ADR institution which was essential to launching a project that impacts key public institutions, such as the Judiciary and the national community.

Mr. Kalpatoo added that he was impressed by the high calibre of mediators affiliated with the Centre, and the Centre’s insistence on a rigorous training programme for all participants of the project.  The training and assessment will be conducted by Tom Kalpatoo and he will be collaborating with Mrs. Stephanie Daly and the Judiciary to deliver court-related topics for “non-lawyer” mediators.

Dispute Resolution Centre Chairman, Raoul John praised the Centre’s Steering Committee for its vision, dedication and collective expertise which they brought to project.  This team comprises Dennis Gurley, Stephanie Daly, Christopher Hamel-Smith and Beverly Britain. From the Judiciary, he also recognised the invaluable insight and contribution of the Honourable Chief Justice, Ivor Archie, Justice of Appeal, Mr. Peter Jamadhar and High Court Judge, Justice Vasheist Kokaram.

Executive Director of the Centre and Project Manager, Beverly Britain, noted that she was quite excited to be involved in this project and reiterated the Centre’s commitment to work with the Judiciary in making it a success.  She noted that the mediators’ skills, experience, professionalism and commitment would be a key driver to achieving the project’s objectives.  She said that careful consideration was given to the selection of mediators for the project, and apart from their training and experience in mediation, the Centre tapped into professionals from the business and legal communities, as well as retired judges, diplomats and high-level public servants, with a wealth of experience mediating business, social and industrial disputes, and even matters of national importance.

Raoul John stated that the atmosphere at the Orientation was one of eager anticipation to get the ball rolling since these mediators would have dedicated most of their professional lives to ADR and were passionate about using their skills in what they expressed as a noble effort that can benefit the country as a whole.

Mr. John concluded that this project could be the catalyst for tipping the scales towards more collaborative and less confrontational approaches to dealing with disputes in our society.

Comments from Participants:

“An excellent initiative which empowers clients while offering all stakeholders material benefits.”  Dr. Marjorie Thorpe, Retired Diplomat

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