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Stakeholders gather for mediation forum

By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter More than 50 participants gathered at the Belize Biltmore Plaza hotel on Friday for the first of two training sessions on mediation, an alternative dispute resolution method to litigation. The first session was held open-forum style, where the mediators themselves interacted with stakeholders such as the Belize Bar Association, Justices of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, and Restore Belize. Participants discussed a myriad of issues and challenges facing mediators, and discussed the best techniques to getting them resolved. The second session will be a best practices training session facilitated by Jamaican mediator Paul Hinds. Hinds’ training will include talks on advanced mediation techniques, role of attorneys in mediation, and how mediators can maintain control over their sessions. Justice Courtnay, chairman of the National Mediation Committee, told The Reporter that he believes mediation can be more rewarding for parties to a dispute than litigation. “Mediation is quicker, less costly and empowers the parties because they are the ones coming up with the solutions,” Abel said. According to the National Mediation Committee, since Belize began using court annexed mediation last year, 50 cases have gotten mediation orders. In Belize once the court gives a mediation order, litigants have 45 days to hold the mediation sessions. Both parties pay a fee to the mediator who then facilitates the discussion on resolving the dispute. The mediator’s job is to guide complainants into making their own solution to the problem. Once an agreement is reached, the complainants take the settlement back to the Supreme Court, and the trial judge issues a court order binding the complainants to the agreement. In Jamaica, mediation is a mandatory part of the legal process.

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