The wheels of justice are expected to turn over a lot faster in Barbados??? judicial system, following the recent launch of the Court-Annexed Mediation Pilot project at the Supreme Court Complex.

Chief Justice, Sir Marston Gibson, explained that persons entering the court seeking justice would now be pointed in the direction of the mediation process.

In fact, he told those present for the launch at the White Park Road, St. Michael, judicial centre, that he believed the project would be a success as the backlog has already started to come down.

This was supported by Mediation Coordinator, Harriett Payne, who noted that many cases presently in court were parallel to unsolved disputes. ???Our courts are filled with numerous cases which cannot be heard at a reasonable time. It is for this reason that the Court-Annexed Mediation pilot project is being implemented to provide more timely and cost effective access to justice for both claimants and defendants,??? she said.

Practicum sessions for the pilot project began in March, with nine mediators and two trainers. To date, 33 cases ranging from contract agreements, property settlements, accident, personal injury, employment, and maintenance, have been heard, with 25 of these being settled. Ten out of 15 cases were settled in the Supreme Court, while 15 out of 18 were settled in the Magistrates??? Court.

???During this period, I witnessed emotional and irate disputants who were willing to have their cases settled without delay. The parties were actively encouraged to explain the factual background of their dispute, and identify issues and underlying interests, in order to generate options for agreement and make a final decision regarding settlement,??? Mrs. Payne stated.

She explained the mediation process removed the position of the judge and created a face-to-face setting, which allowed the parties to tell each other how they were feeling and express what they wanted in an informal and controlled environment.

This, she said, is usually followed by apologies, hugs and handshakes. ???There is a win-win outcome. These are but some of the benefits which can be derived from the mediation process,??? the Mediation Coordinator pointed out.??She noted that to date, mediation has received positive feedback from those who have gone through the process.

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