The previous article on Mediation, focused on the Role of the Mediator. Through this particular article, we intend to discuss the Mediation Board System of Sri Lanka and the functions operated by it. You can visit to read our blog on the Role of the Mediator by clicking the following link. https://lawfacrotaract.com/2020/09/14/what-is-mediation-2-the-role-of-the-mediator/
Mediation Board System
Mediation was legally introduced to Sri Lanka in 1998, through the Mediation Boards Act No.72 of 1998 that was passed by the parliament. The act defines mediation as any lawful means to endeavor to bring the disputants to an amicable settlement and to remove, with their consent and, wherever practicable, the real cause of grievance between them so as to prevent a recurrence of the dispute or offence.
Nonetheless prior to this legal framework, Sri Lanka had a history of mediation, where reputed person or the monk in the village used to act as the mediator at the village councils that referred to as “Gam Sabha” which served as a tribunal for the hearing of complaints and doing justice among neighbors. After enacting the Mediation Boards Act, its objective was to provide people cost effective and expeditious mechanism of dispute settlements outside the court.
Today, Sri Lanka’s Mediation Boards program is the third largest mediation system in the world which governed by independent and impartial Mediation Boards Commission where boards are administered by the Sri Lanka Ministry of Justice and Law Reform along with the mediator training and performance monitoring.
Mediation Boards Commission comprises of five members where three of them are statutorily required to be retired judges of the Superior Courts. All the members are appointed by His Excellency the President. In Sri Lanka at present, there are 329 Mediation Boards throughout the country and approximately 8266 mediators are assisting people on voluntary basis.
Functions discharged by the staff attached to Mediation Boards Commission
In accordance with the Mediation Boards Act, establishments of mediation boards throughout the country and provision such boards with necessary facilities include,
- Calling for nomination for the purpose of recruitment of Mediators, conducting interviews, recruitment of persons to be mediators upon training offered at a five-day training workshop.
- Facilitating dispute resolution process throughout the country by way of panel of mediators.
- Establishment of School Mediation Units and conducting of school mediation workshops.
- Rising awareness among the community towards the importance of mediation.
- In terms of the provisions laid down in the Mediation Act, No.21 of 2003, establishment of 5 mediation boards for providing the public with meaningful resolution relating to land disputes.
Efficacy of Sri Lankan Mediation process
Today, mediation is considered to be a means of resolving very simple disputes, as they are not aware as to how mediation is preferred worldwide in dealing with serious disputes, often involving millions of dollars. But in countries like United States of America and United Kingdom, mediation has become a core element in alternative.
Furthermore there are no laws enabling private mediation. Mediation process currently functions in regard to minor and medium scale criminal offences and is not applicable to serious criminal cases. It is placed within criminal justice as a pre-requisite to the institution of criminal proceedings which sometimes defeat the idea of mutual agreement and contributes to the reluctance of some parties to come to the Mediation Boards.
Nevertheless, when compared with the formal judicial methods of resolutions of disputes, mediation has is acting as a gradually progressing process of helping people to resolve conflicts. Thus, it is evident that the Sri Lankan Mediation Board System offers a wide variety of services in order to help people to find solutions to their disputes.
Likewise, we plan to bring you more information on mediation in the future as well, in order to create awareness and promote mediation among people.
written by Akshina Liyanage and Tharushi Gamage