Call for mediation clause in construction industry contracts

Justice Suresh Chandra (right) with Fiji Mediation Centre staff Sereana Marama. Picture: SUPPLIED

THE construction industry has been urged to include a mediation clause in all their legal contracts.

The suggestion comes from Justice Suresh Chandra of the Fiji Mediation Centre who says while most contracts contain an arbitration clause, there is no reason why a mediation clause cannot be added.

“The 70 per cent success rate of the centre speaks for itself as a viable alternative disputes resolution mechanism,” he said.

Justice Chandra will be one of the presenters at the upcoming inaugural Construction Industry Council conference this Friday June 15th and 16th, with a trade exhibition starting a day earlier on Thursday June 14th.

Justice Chandra said mediation could prove to be a highly effective tool, saving time and money and allowing the industry to focus on their core business.
Particularly for an industry where millions of investment dollars and jobs could be unnecessarily held up when disputes such as breach of contracts or non-performance arise.

He said similar to the “talanoa” concept, mediation allowed both parties to speak openly and come up with a resolution together, unlike in arbitration or court where one party wins and the other loses out.

“We have even had disputes resolved through mediation within a day, and some cases within an hour where parties that have not talked for months or years finally speak to each other openly,” he added.

Established in 2016 under the globally recognised Singapore model, the centre which is an arm of the judiciary now has over 40 accredited mediators from various professional backgrounds.

“Major events such as this CIC conference this week allows us to raise awareness about mediation and to convince people to keep an open mind when trying to resolve disputes and not rush to lawyers or to the courts,” Justice Chandra added.

 

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