Earlier this month, the IMPACT Justice Project and the Supreme Court of Barbados welcomed Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Justice Francis Belle, one of the region’s leading mediation specialists, as guest speaker for two lectures on mediation.
Speaking to a diverse audience in the Ralph Carnegie Lecture Theatre at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Justice Belle spoke on The Mediation Imperative: The Benefits to the Courts and the Community. He emphasised the necessity and value of mediation, the logistical issues in getting started and the successes seen.
“Mediation is a success in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court recording a success rate of more than 60 percent of the cases handled being completely resolved.”
He further stated that the agreement entered into in the mediation process does not have to be based on any legal precedent or any knowledge of law and shared the story of an elderly gentleman who upon securing an apology from the other side got up and walked out of the court.
“The case finished after the apology. That was all he wanted to hear. He didn’t want money or costs or anyone to be punished.”
During his remarks at the first lecture, Barbados’ Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson lamented current circumstances in the courts and expressed his gratitude for the IMPACT Justice Project.
“When people go to the courts they wanted their cases to be resolved and if their cases took too many years to be resolved it would be a defeatist situation,” he said. “The IMPACT Project is being run out of the University of the West Indies; part of the project is to train mediators. We need mediators to be trained because there is no way that we can do justice in Barbados when we have 2500 cases with six High Court judges.”
He also pledged that with amendments to the proposed practice direction, a soon to be court-annexed mediation programme will be rolled-out.
Professor Velma Newton, regional director, IMPACT Justice Project gave her insight on the two lectures. She said: “The two days for the mediation lectures have proven to be quite valuable. It was a great opportunity to learn from a mediation practitioner and to hear of the experiences with setting up the mediation programme in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.”
“Mediation will go a long way in improving the overall quality of justice delivery in Barbados and we are looking forward to seeing the expansion of its implementation across the region as part of justice sector reform,” she added.