With the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) proving to be an effective method in courts around the world, Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) President, Justice Adrian Saunders is encouraging the local judiciary to use this form of conflict resolution in disposing of civil cases.“Mediation is a very special skill; it is a very useful skill to resolve disputes. It helps to lighten the court’s load [and] the nature of the agreements because they are consensually worked out.“All these statistics show that all over the world, mediation agreements are honoured more readily and more quickly than judgements of the court. Mediation preserves relationships, in fact, sometimes it restores and rebuilds relationships between parties and I’m a very, very big proponent of the use of mediation,” Justice Saunders said during an interaction session hosted in Georgetown lastCCJ President Justice Adrian Saundersweek.According to the new CCJ President, many persons have a misconception that every dispute filed must end years or months later in a fully blown trial before a judge.“That’s just a myth. Courts will not be able to afford the resources to accommodate the trial of every case that is filed, but, more importantly, cases that are filed amidst an enormous range of possible solutions, not all of them are particularly suited for a full-blown trial,” he noted.The CCJ President asserted that in many cases, a mediated solution would yield a greater level of satisfaction to the parties involved and as such, he encouraged Guyana’s judicial sector to adopt mediation as an ADR or even arbitral solution, which would yield just as great a solution as a full-blown trial.“So, it is important [to use ADRs], and now that you have new Civil Procedure Rules that accommodate this, it is important that at a very early stage, some assessment is made of whether the dispute that is filed is suitable for mediation, arbitration or some other form of dispute resolution … So, I really hope that your mediation infrastructure is really robust that Judges are very liberal in sending litigants to mediate,” he asserted.Justice Saunders pointed out that not all parties in civil cases filed really want to go through trial. In fact, he recalled a case he was co-defending in which after his senior had cross-examined the main witness on the other side and made him out to be not a very truthful person, his client said that she did not care about the case thereon and was just happy that the other party was made out to “look like the liar that he is”.“So her purpose for coming to court was not to have a big trial or to win a case, [it] was just to ensure that people recognised that this man had done her something wrong. So, people have all sorts of different reasons to go to court and it is a waste of judicial time not to afford them an opportunity to resolve issues at an early stage in ways that would not necessarily involve trials in the court,” he posited.The St Vincent-born Judge went on to note that he was involved in the introduction of court-connected mediation in St Lucia. In fact, he said it was the first country that introduced court-connected mediation in the Caribbean and the Judges there were told that if they assessed that a case was suitable for mediation to order the parties to attend the mediation centre.“Now you can lead the horse to the water, but you can’t force it to drink, but the mediation order that says it must go to mediation was an order of the court, if you failed to obey that order, then you are liable to be held for contempt of court. I have known mediators who have sat with somebody who have showed up for mediation and who would say “I don’t know why the Judge send me here, I don’t want to mediate my case, I want to go before the Judge to hear my case and I don’t have anything to say. They told me to come and I have come,” but then three and a half hours later, there was a mediation agreement signed by that same party,” he related.In Guyana, the Mediation Centre was established in 2003 and according to statistics provided back in May, of the 880 cases filed, the court has directed 772 to mediation and of that number, 108 matters were settled before actual mediation while 48 matters were successfully mediated where an agreement was reached.However, in 228 matters, the mediation was unsuccessful and the case referred to trial.