Judge offers support for court room alternative

| 19/08/2010

(CNS): The introduction of mediation services to the Cayman Islands could add a new string to the country’s financial services bow, a leading expert in the field has said. Jonathan Dingle of the London School of Mediation visited Cayman this week to promote the idea that the jurisdiction could offer an alternative to the courtroom to resolve some commercial and civil disputes. At a special reception on Monday evening, recently appointed judge of the financial court, Sir Peter Cresswell offered his backing to the concept of mediation. Speaking in his personal capacity, the judge said that by offering mediation services Cayman could enhance its standing as a regional leader and centre of excellence.

Mediation is a way of attempting to resolve a dispute in anything from insurance claims to family matters in front of an independent mediator before it reaches the costly and adversarial arena of the courtroom. Not all mediators are lawyers, but most have some form of legal background and usually specialise in certain fields. A day’s mediation can often successfully resolve a dispute at a fraction of the cost and far more amicably than in a formal legal setting.
The reception held at the Marriot to promote the concept was hosted by local attorneys Stenning Associates, which invited a number of people from the legal profession to discuss the potential for developing mediation services locally.
The presentation on the advantages of mediation was delivered by Cresswell, who aside from being a judge is also a trained mediator. In his capacity as the Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in London, he revealed that he issued the first practice direction encouraging the use of mediation where appropriate as an alternative to litigation.
He said he had conducted 33 mediation cases in the UK in the last fifteen months and every one was settled outside the courtroom either on the day or a couple of days later.
Cresswell said that there were significant developments in mediation in other jurisdictions in the region and there was room for Cayman to develop its own mediation facilities. He said that the jurisdiction would need a pool of properly trained mediators who would be able to provide services to resolve different types of disputes.
“In my personal opinion the legal landscape is changing and there is considerable scope for further development of mediation,” Cresswell said. “One of the key advantages of mediation is that it assists in the settlement of disputes in cases where parties need to do business together or live together in future.”
He said the new residential tenancy law contains pioneering provisions for mediation but the method was also appropriate for matrimonial disputes, workplace disputes, community, insurance and even disputes in schools. Cresswell said that it was currently under consideration for strata title disputes and the Information Commissioner had adopted a policy to seek resolution by mediating FOI disputes before a formal hearing.
“In ten years time there will be far greater use of mediation in the Cayman Islands than at present,” Cresswell predicted. “It is for the people of Cayman to set up a licensed regional mediation centre or facilities for Cayman and its neighbours in which the people have confidence.”
Dingle, whose organisation specialises in training and accrediting mediators, noted that mediation would add value to the country’s existing commercial sector and he pointed out that the concept of mediation does not supplant lawyers or replace litigation but offers a real alternative, another way to deal with the complex and diverse disputes that are part of a world class jurisdiction. Among the many advantages, Dingle said that mediation was a less expensive, faster, more efficient and less adversarial way of resolving important problems.
“Mediation often allows the parties to get a better deal without the inherent risks of the court room,” he said. “When two sides go to court they both think they are right but more often than not only one is and sometime neither side is right. With mediation both parties are usually able to walk away with something and everyone involved gets a better outcome.”
Dingle also explained that the system merely requires the support of those involved and therewas no need for any new legislation to facilitate the introduction of the services. He said the need for people to be trained and a place for mediation to happen was all that was needed to start the ball rolling.
Bermuda and Jamaica are already offering a place for mediation in a variety of fields and as the practice of using mediation becomes increasingly more common the idea of developing the service here could not only offer the people of Cayman a more affordable and efficient way of solving disputes, it could also add to the overall attractiveness of Cayman to the international commercial community.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    So? The article about the new draft arbitration law 2 mos ago barely registered a blip of interest.
    Its not as if this reception brought anything new except a comment from Cresswell?

    Slow news day, CNS?


  2. Anonymous says:

    Mediation/ADR is commonly used elsewhere very successfully.

    Its long overdue and would be very welcomed and useful here.  The courts are already too cluttered with minor cases and disputes which could easily be resolved by mediation/ADR.

    • Anonymous says:

      After reading the headline in the caymanian compass tonight  I WILL HAVE TO AGREE THAT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA. There are big cases to deal with that have been dragging on for too long, such as the very same case that is making the headlines with ex cop Burmon Scott. The Cayman Public has been upset with the treatment given to him, while Mr Hendersons case was dealt with so quickly. Maybe it wouldnt hurt if our NUMBER I MUSICIAN would change his Nationality. To be treated like what the Compass is stating is very humiliating and unfair all the way. WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER.

      • Dick Shaughneary says:

        Why do POSTERS ON CNS feel the urge to INCLUDE POINTLESS UPPER CASE passages in their postings? 

        I have noticed that the use of the upper case is generally inversely proportional to the amount of common sense or logic in the post.

        • noname says:

          Because the most prolific posters on CNS are of the same extremist ilk as the callers to the radio shows: very left-wing, extremist and well,…ignorant and uneducated.

          • Anonymous says:

            The uneducated made this a good Country ,until of recent when we allowed a new breed of people to take over thank you.