THE High Court rules are being amended to allow consumers' complaints referral from court to mediation.
And it is unlikely to be made compulsory or that party should suffer costs orders for refusal to submit to it.
This was revealed by the Chief Justice Anthony Gates at the mediation workshop on managing conflicts and resolving disputes effectively through mediation that began at Novotel Hotel in Lami yesterday.
Justice Gates says mediation is good for the community.
"It is less divisive than a court case, and will tend to keep partnerships, families, and trading relationships intact," he said.
If it is properly understood, he added mediation was likely to be taken up willingly and with enthusiasm. "In addition, rules will be made to govern procedure during the mediation stage."
If cases are referred to mediation, Justice Gates said the civil lists in courts, High Court and magistrates court would be lessened and those remaining in the system would have quicker path to judgment and conclusion.
"For these reasons, the judiciary is prepared to assist by putting part of our limited fund to work in supporting mediation training, that is for the training for other groups beside judicial officers."
The workshop was funded by the Fiji judiciary and the European Union via the consumer council.
He said Fiji had benefited from having to provide services and equipment, management and infrastructure on its own.
"The lack of aid has been an energising force for creativity and problem-solving within Fiji. Much has been done with little."
He said acceptance of aid in the future would have to be pondered over carefully before being agreed to.
"Not all will be good for Fiji's development. The judiciary, with its increased autonomy under the new constitution, must jealously guard its independence."