IMPACT Justice hosts mediation sensitization training for judges  

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Between January 3 and 7, 2022, the Canadian government-funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project hosted a 5-day mediation sensitization workshop for the judges of the Barbados Supreme Court. Three Justices of Appeal, ten High Court Judges and two High Court Masters participated in the session, which was held in the First Citizen’s Room of the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business and Management.

Urban Dolor, Mediation Trainer, ADR Centre, Rome, Italy and experienced court-connected mediator in the OECS facilitated the session, which served to provide the judicial officers with a greater understanding of the mediation process and how it can be used to resolve many of the matters filed before the Supreme Court.

At the opening ceremony for the 5-day workshop, Professor Velma Newton, CBE, SCM, regional project director of the IMPACT Justice Project delivered opening remarks in which she commented on the contribution of the IMPACT Justice Project to the improvement of access to justice in the region, highlighting that in relation to mediation, the Project has trained over 650 persons in this form of conflict resolution.

Chief Justice of Barbados, Sir Patterson Cheltenham, KA also delivered remarks at the opening and highlighted the importance of mediation to the docket management efforts of the Supreme Court. Sir Patterson also heaped high praises on Urban Dolor and the coaching team for their exemplary work at an earlier training session hosted for Magistrates in July and September 2021. He reported that in the feedback submitted by the Magistrates they stated that the training gives a broader perspective on life and people and helps in daily problem solving; causes some to direct their attention to the use of correct language to achieve balance; and for others, improves their listening skills and increases their consciousness of the types of questions to ask litigants. He even reported that one queried if the process could be made mandatory.

Based on these comments, coupled with His Lordship’s assessment of the mediation uptake figures for the Supreme Court, he felt it necessary to request similar training for the Judges of the Supreme Court. He explained that while there are two protocols on mediation, a mediation coordinator and training of mediators, unless the judiciary, who are also essential players in the process are sensitized, there is no likelihood of a vigorous programme in mediation being achieved.

On the conclusion of the 5-day workshop on January 7, Justices of Appeal Francis Belle, and Margaret Reifer commended the team for an excellent workshop.

According to Madam Justice Reifer, who raised the vote of thanks, the training exceeded all of their expectations and went beyond the acquisition of soft skills and mediation sensitization, and imparted much knowledge on the roles of the mediator and the intricacies of the mediation process. She noted that as experienced adjudicators, judges are often saddened by the fact that the litigation process and outcome are measured in acrimony and forever lost relationships; whereas the mediation process, promotes the use of skill sets and processes that leads to the creation of an outcome that is acceptable to both parties, while preserving relationships.

She noted that for her and her colleagues, the training was a resounding success. She, therefore, thanked the government of Canada, the trainer, Urban Dolor; coaches, Miles Weekes, Victor Felix and Anthony Howard; and Professor Velma Newton and the IMPACT Justice team for an eye-opening and enjoyable workshop.

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