As part of its mission to provide ‘access to quality justice’ the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands introduced its Court Connected Mediation Rules which came into force on 16th August 2021.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution wherein a negotiation is facilitated by a neutral third party called the Mediator. A Mediator does not have a stake in the outcome of a dispute but assists the parties to find common ground to arrive at a settlement. The settlement is reduced into writing to be presented to the court.
Court-Connected mediation follows the bringing of a suit and filing of court fees. It may be accessed by:
- Parties to a dispute who opt for mediation by making a request of the Registrar before the matter progresses to the court where the Judge will become seized with it; or
- A party, requesting for mediation before a Judge, with the consent of the other party; or
- A judge before whom a suit is placed and who in line with guidelines and practice directions, considers it to be suitable for mediation.
The Mediation process is neither complex nor cumbersome and yields a host of benefits when properly conducted. It is with this in mind that the Judiciary in collaboration with the University of the West Indies hosted its first mediation training and certification course from 30th August to 6th September 2021. There was a second group trained from the 1st to 9th December 2021 and a total of some forty-two (42) suitably qualified persons from around the Islands participated in the “Practical Mediation Skills Training Programme”. Participants were required to complete 40 hours of virtual training in order to be certified. On 4th February 2022 the successful participants from the first batch of trainees were formally presented their certificates together with congratulatory remarks by the Chief Justice in a virtual ceremony.
Certified Mediators are eligible to apply for inclusion on the Court’s Mediation Roster. The Mediation Roster is kept at the Supreme Court Registry and the Office of the ADR Administrator. There are currently eight (8) Mediators on the Roster and two (2) co-mediation firms from Trinidad and Tobago and Ottawa, Canada.
The Judiciary will also shortly introduce Victim Offender Mediation, also called Restorative Justice.
Members of the public may forward any questions they may have on this process to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Administrator at: firstname.lastname@example.org.