Chief Justice Sir Patterson Cheltenham is encouraging the 32 newly admitted attorneys-at-law to the Bar to consider using mediation with their clients as a softer approach when settling disputes.
Speaking during the recent Special Sitting in the Court of Appeal in the Supreme Court Complex, Sir Patterson said mediation was a “softer and more nuanced” dispute settlement process being offered to usher in two outcomes.
“First, to offer parties a chance to assist in crafting the terms of settlement and become central players in the resolution of their disputes; secondly, to divert from the court matters that genuinely do not belong, and thus to redirect the load from an already burdened system,” he underlined.
The Chief Justice explained that mediation is a form of controlled negotiation that looks to the future; focuses on relationships; seeks to restructure relationships; results in custom-made solutions; and provides an enhanced role for the clients.
The island’s top jurist reminded the gathering that negotiations are “part of the legal standard for a lawyer”.
Sir Patterson continued: “In court annexed mediation, it is incumbent on you, the lawyer, to become exposed to the requisite training in order to add value to your repertoire, and to play an effective role in advising the client, who has been referred to mediation. In default of such training, in effect you become a dangerous hindrance to the settlement process, and raise, in the process, the core question of your competence and fitness for purpose in a modern legal environment. Mediation is here to stay. All lawyers, new and old must equip themselves in order to march with this relatively new court driven initiative.”