Legal Development in Nepal

Mediation resolves cases pending long years

Kiran Chapagain, who is famous for writing legal columns in Kantipur has this news for us.

In this legal story, he shows how the ADR Method (Alternative Dispute Resolution Method) is helping to solve the cases in short time. Being a student of Law and particularly being interested in ADR, I found the News of great significance. Speedy Justice, Justice in Low cost and without many hurdles should be part of our constitutional rights. It’s good that in our country also, judiciary is seeing ADR as alternative and in most of the time, an appropriate mode of resolving disputes. There must be continued efforts to solve the matters by applying other non-litigative ways. You can read the whole story here:

 

 

On a recent Thursday afternoon inside the mediation center at the Supreme Court, advocate Tara Prasad Poudel was urging plaintiffs and defendants of a land case to compromise and resolve their longstanding land dispute.Sitting on one side of an oval-shaped coffee-colored table, Poudel also reminded litigants they had engaged in legal battle for 16 years already and warned that the case might continue for generations if it was not settled. Poudel then asked both sides for possible solutions.

Poudel had hardly finished speaking when Udaya Maya Khatri, a plaintiff, exploded, saying “How can I compromise with them (pointing at two defendants who were sitting at the other end of the table)?”

Then both the plaintiffs and the defendants started trading charges, even in abusive language, as if they were going to fight right there, making the ongoing mediation uncertain. Poudel intervened calmly there and then.

“Perhaps you have heard the story of Safala Devi [who fought land-related legal battles throughout her life and died a couple of years ago, with her cases unfinished.] You might face a similar situation,” Poudel warned.

Finally, Poudel was successful in persuading the parties to compromise. They left the mediation center agreeing to finalize the case in the next sitting.

Many cases are being settled through mediation, as an alternative to the existing practice of resolving disputes inside court chambers by judges. In this practice of dispute settlement, known as court-referred mediation, trained mediators like Poudel facilitate plaintiffs and defendants to resolve dispute referred by courts through bilateral negotiations.

Available data from Kathmandu District Court shows that the practice, which began officially from December 7, 2006, is becoming popular among litigants as an alternative to the traditional method of dispute resolution inside court chambers. Altogether 16 percent of the total cases the court received in the last one year were settled through mediation, according to Krishna Ram Koirala, chief administrator of the court.

Even officials at the mediation center at Patan Appellate Court and the Supreme Court are upbeat with the success of mediation in the very first year of its operation.

According to Ram Prasad Neupane, chief of Patan Appellate Court mediation center, the court referred 162 cases to the center and 26 cases were successfully resolved through mediation in the last one year. Fifteen cases are awaiting settlement. The other remaining cases were returned to the benches for judgment.

Similarly, the Supreme Court mediation center finalized 41 out of 189 cases referred by the court for settlement while 32 are running, according to Prakash Raut, chief of the meditation center.

In general, mediation is more difficult in cases that are in appellate courts and the Supreme Court because parties become more certain of winning the case by the time the cases reach higher courts. “Mediation is more successful when cases are in the district courts since parties are less certain about which way the verdict might go,” says Neupane.

Initiated with initial support of USAID, court-referred mediation is being practiced in all courts across the country in a bid to address chronic backlogs and delay in justice delivery. Besides, the practice is expected to make justice less expensive.

“We have been successful in finalizing cases within three months,” said Raut.

At present, trained mediators comprising lawyers, former judges and court employees, have been providing mediation service free of cost. However, the Supreme Court has recently decided to provide Rs 300 for mediators at the Supreme Court Mediation Center as taxi fare. But mediators at appellate and district courts are not provided even taxi fare.

“We are going to request the government for budget so that we can give some money to mediators for their service,” said Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena, registrar of the Supreme Court.

Efforts are underway to institutionalize the practice. A mediation law is being drafted. “At present, the court can refer cases for mediation only after parties agree to mediation. But once the mediation law comes into effect, courts can impose mediation on litigants,” said mediator and advocate, Raj Kumar Thapa.  Though mediation can save time, effort and money of litigants, people are yet to be adequately educated about the advantages of mediation. “It is urgent that litigants be made aware of the practice and its benefits,” Neupane said. As this scribe met Udaya Maya after her 16-year old case was settled, she said, “Both of  us won, nobody lost as the dispute was settled through bilateral negotiation. We  lost thousands on litigation, but the case was solved in just two sitting,” “She is correct that nobody loses when a case is resolved through mediation,” mediator Poudel said.

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