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Conflicts and disputes

Fiji Mediation Centre
Saturday, March 10, 2018

HAVE you ever had disputes and intended to resolve the same in a more expedient and effective manner without having to go through the court system?

Mediation is the answer for you to resolve disputes in timely and an amicable manner. Disputes and conflicts always create situations where relationships turn out to be unpleasant.

This is because of the fact that parties are not able to resolve their differences and have no choice but to resolve it through litigation processes. Apparently, there is a portion of the population that is not able to afford a lawsuit. As such, they have an option to conclude their disputes and conflicts through mediation.

Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available to aggrieved parties in any dispute. Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party called the mediator. Unlike arbitration, which is a process of ADR somewhat similar to trial, mediation does not involve decision making by the mediator. ADR procedures can be initiated by the parties or may be compelled by legislation, the courts, or contractual terms.

Mediatory process is usually a voluntary process, although sometimes statutes, rules, or court orders may require participation in mediation.

This process is common in small claims courts, family courts, and civil courts. Unlike the litigation process, where a neutral third party (usually a judge) imposes a decision over the matter, the parties and their mediator ordinarily control the mediation process.

Unlike court proceedings, the parties drive the mediatory process from start to end. Early resolution of any dispute can undoubtedly reduce emotional stress and unnecessary hassle of running around by the parties to any dispute/grievance.

If the parties mediate early in their dispute, it is likely that they can avoid many costs associated with preparing their cases for trial.

However, it is significant to remember that by conceding to resolve disputes by way of mediation do not mean that the parties would be refrained from pursuing litigation or arbitration should the matter remain unresolved.

The parties are always at a liberty to proceed to arbitration and/or litigation in the event the mediatory process does not work as expected. Unlike court, parties can be rest assured that discussions and negotiations in mediation remains completely confidential. The mediator is required to keep all communications confidential, and not to willingly testify as to what was discussed in mediation.

For the Fijian population who have disputes in relation to banking and financial services, construction, contractors, defamation, employment, insurance, probates, personal injury, professional malpractices, sale and purchase of property, tenancy, etc. can now resort to the Fiji Mediation Centre (FMC) for mediations.

As far as FMC is concerned, parties can resolve problems on their own at any stage of the proceedings even if they have filed cases in the court.

If parties are able to resolve their problems before the hearing, they do not have to proceed to trial in court.

Parties have to file terms of settlement indicating that they have resolved the case. If mediation is tried, but parties do not come to an agreement, they can still go to court.

FMC is a not-for-profit organisation run by a dedicated team of experienced professionals. It is headed by the Judicial Department in Fiji and the panel of mediators comprises experienced and respected mediators from Fiji.

These mediators are accredited by the Singapore Mediation Centre and there are 42 such accredited mediators who range from judges/masters of the court, magistrates, lawyers, accountants, senior civil servants, academics and managers and executive directors.

The centre's team of experts also consists of international mediators — George Lim and Josephine Hadikusomo from Singapore Mediation Centre.

The FMC is able to mediate with iTaukei and Hindi speakers, as well as in English language.

The centre offers professional case management under the FMC Mediation Rules including a competitive and transparent fee structure.

All the logistics, facilities and services for mediation can be arranged at Level 1 Tabatolu House, Goodenough St, Suva.

Traders, service providers and the public can contact the FMC by calling on 3211371 and seek assistance to resolve their disputes at the Centre.

Application forms can be collected from any Court Registries and/or the website Parties may further refer to the website to comprehend the services provided by Fiji Mediation Centre.

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