‘Alternate dispute resolution a huge relief to the masses’

Dr_Arif_AlviISLAMABAD: An opposition lawmaker has sought amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 aimed at making alternate dispute resolution (ADR) mandatory in all civil and commercial cases.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) National Assembly Member Arif Alvi tabled the bill in the National Assembly last year seeking incorporation of Section 89-A (ADR) in the over a century-old law.

The parliamentarian is of the view that the proposed amendment will help resolve disputes and conflicts in the society as well as in trade and businesses.

“It will provide a huge relief to the masses,” Alvi said, while talking toThe Express Tribune.

The lawmaker said that he had worked on authoring the proposed amendment for more than a year and a half.

“What a shame! A century has passed and we have yet to make up our minds about how best to provide relief to the common man,” he said.

“While passing a decree, a court can impose a cost which may extend to Rs5 million on a party found to have made a false or baseless claim or defence,” the suggested amendment states.

It further proposes that a mediator will try to resolve the dispute within a period of 60 days from the date of receiving the reference, and the court can extend it for 30 more days.

Alvi said that most disputes did not even reach the courts of law, adding there was a dire need of engaging clerics, police SHOs and community elders in the process of ADR to provide greater relief to litigants.

The proposed bill will make arbitration, mediation or conciliation, mandatory in disputes between landlords and tenants, pre-emption cases, civil matters, commercial disputes, ordinary transactions of merchants and traders.

“In view of the tremendous burden on courts, where a huge backlog of cases exists, it is essential that other processes which prevent conflicts and disputes from exacerbating should be encouraged in society,” the draft of the proposed bill states.

Currently, the National Centre for Dispute Resolution (NCDR) is, likely the only institute which provides a time-efficient, cost-effective and strictly confidential way to resolve disputes amicably.

NCDR, approved by the Sindh High Court, is headed by the former chief justice of Pakistan, Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui.

The centre’s Chief Operating Officer, Ebrahim Saifuddin, said that cost of a case at NCDR ranged from Rs7,500 to Rs50,000, and that too could be waived off, if someone could not afford it.

The PTI lawmaker said that delays and non-resolution of disputes led to deaths, deprivation, loss of billions to the economy, closure of businesses and severe negative implications for the society.

“It’s time to make laws more beneficial for the people,” Alvi stressed.

Historically, ADR mechanism and measures have been used in the form of the local panchayats and jirgas but without any formal restraints, training, encouragement or structure in all the provinces of the country.


Published: The Express Tribune