English | Dzongkha Friday, September 25, 2020

BNLI introduces mediation units in the courts

Oct 29, 2019

The Bhutan National Legal Institute (BNLI) is introducing court-annexed mediation in courts throughout the country, as a significant reform in the judiciary. With the introduction of the mediation units within the courts, people will have enhanced access to prompt and speedy justice.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck inaugurated the Punakha district court’s mediation unit yesterday, which marked the opening of mediation units in courts across the country.

The mediation units will serve as alternative dispute resolution forums within the court.

The President of BNLI, Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck highlighted that opening of mediation units will promote community vitality.

“The most important aspect in service of mediation is professionalism and adherence to ethical standards by the mediators. This will ensure greater trust from the public in the judiciary. When we introduce such significant reform in the judiciary, people should be made aware of such reforms, people should know the benefits of such a service. Else they will not have any trust in such service, or they will not be content with the service. We should make come up with innovative ideas to avoid such challenges.”

Mediators will be able to settle certain civil cases pertaining to marriage, debt and land disputes amicably between the litigants.

To ensure that it is an effective method of dispute resolution, BNLI has trained around 80 bench clerks of district courts this year between June and August.

“You need not go in search of mediators outside the court. You can use the judicial mediators to mediate your disputes in case you fail to get your disputes mediated in the communities. And of course you still have the opportunity to mediate cases outside the court by the commercial mediators but for people to get access to justice at no cost, very expeditiously, HRH President of the BNLI is instituting mediation chamber within the court itself,” Lobzang Rinzin Yargay, the Director-General of BNLI, said.

For a district like Punakha, the opening of the mediation unit in the court is expected to resolve at least 50 per cent of cases while saving a lot of time and cost. The district court registered more than 400 cases last year of which more than a hundred cases were resolved through mediation.

“It’s a bit different from how mediation used to happen before. In the absence of mediation unit in courts, we offer the litigants option if they wish to go for mediation. And they go out of the court to get themselves, mediator. Then they give a copy of the mediated dispute to the court for judgment. Now with the opening of mediation units, if they wish to go for mediation, we give them the opportunity whereby they do not have to go outside the court looking for mediators,” Pema Needup, the Drangpon of Punakha District Court, said.

Resolving disputes through mediation picked momentum in 2012 when local government leaders were trained to carry out mediation. Mediation Impact Assessment Survey 2015 and mediation report 2018 showed that more than 4,000 cases were resolved by the local government leaders in the communities.

Phub Gyem

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