The National Centre for Dispute Resolution (NCDR) is holding the country’s first international seminar on “Mediation: Improving Business Climate & Promoting Communal Harmony”, here on Saturday. Addressing a news conference on Thursday at the NCDR headquarters, President NCDR former chief justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui said that Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali would be the chief guest at the seminar, which will be held at a local hotel.
He said that the seminar was aimed at creating more awareness to help improve mediation in the business climate in the country, besides promoting the communal harmony with the resolution of disputes at the earliest stages. He said that the formal justice delivery system was presently overburdened with litigation and cases for weak governance, increase in public’s awareness of rights, urbanisation, waning of non-judicial traditional dispute resolution institutions and availability of resources to the aggrieved. “This enhances access to affordable legal counsel and representation,” he said.
“Being aware of the situation, which affects litigants with time and costs involved in litigation, the government had amended provision of a section 89 A of the Civil Procedure Code 1908 (CPC) and introduced a well-recognised concept of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in 2002 into formal judicial system,” he added.
Section 89 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 as inserted by Amendment Ord. XXXIV of 2002, dated 27.2.2002 reads “89-A Alternate dispute resolution: The Court may, where it considers necessary, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case with the object of securing expeditious disposal of case, in or in relation to a suit, adopt with the consent of the parties alternate dispute resolution method, including mediation and conciliation,” the former chief Justice said.
The seminar will give an insight into the world of Alternative Dispute Resolution, in particular the benefits of mediation and how mediation can improve the economical condition of Pakistan as well as promote communal harmony and religious tolerance. More than 200 stakeholders from different parts of country and abroad will participate in this mega event, he told.
Justice Siddiqui was of the view that mediation was the future of Pakistan and extensive legislative work was underway to make it mandatory in the country. He said that in November 2015, a proposed amendment to section 89-A making mediation mandatory had been submitted in the National Assembly. Students and faculty members need to familiarise themselves with mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, he said, adding that with mediation soon becoming mandatory in Pakistan, a market would be created for accredited mediators. This seminar will also serve as a platform where students and faculty members could network and meet with leading national and international expert mediators, he added.
“Currently, in Pakistan there is a tradition of informal justice and dispute resolution forums or “panchaayats/jirgas”, where ADR is applied, but judgements are often dispensed by local elites and are arbitrary. Within the legal framework, laws have been drafted, some passed, that have ADR articles for court annexed mediation, he said.
He said that however, it was widely acknowledged in Pakistan that ADR lacks “teeth”, in that it had not been effectively implemented or institutionalised. Essentially, High Court rules did not apply ADR practices while judges and lawyers were not sensitized and rarely referred cases for mediation; hence, as per a media report dated March 31, 2011, Pakistan was facing a backlog of about 1.355869 million cases of varying nature.
Talking about NCDR, Justice Siddiqui said that it was Pakistan’s first mediation centre had been established with the approval of the High Court of Sindh and funded by International Finance Corporation in February 2007. The Centre has since been involved in commercial, international and family mediation, he said.
With a success rate of over 75 percent, he said that the centre had been responsible in the release of over $32 million under various disputes. The centre has also played a major role in suggested amendments to the existing laws of mediation in Pakistan. It has a memorandum of association signed with bodies like the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan, The High Court of Sindh, Karachi Chamber of Commerce, Trade Dispute Resolution Organisation (Ministry of Commerce) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan, he said.
Other prominent speakers of the seminar are former Interior Minister Rehman Malik, MNA Arif Alvi, Vice President NCDR Anwar Mansoor Khan, COO NCDR Ebrahim Saifuddin, foreigners Firdosh Karachiwala (India), Willem Meuwissen and Philippe Billiet from Belgium. Vice President NCDR Anwar Mansoor Khan, Board Members Majyd Aziz, Abrar Hassan, Arshad Zuberi, Zia Ahmed Awan, Younis Bashir, Mom M Fudda, Habib-ur-Rehman and Nadeem Ahmed Adil were also present in press briefing.
Published by: Business Recorder