by Alan Ah Mu
APIA: TUESDAY 6 AUGUST 2013: A bill to establish a Mediation Council was rushed through Parliament today.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Amendment Bill 2013 which under a certificate of urgency passed its third reading in one sitting today with no objections from the Opposition.
Tabled by Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, the bill amends the Alternative Resolution Act 2007 – and establishes the Mediation Council and provides for other amendments.
The council offers resolution of disputes in civil matters as an alternative to court action.
The law society attempted to set mediation in 1994/1995, said Shadow Minister of Justice Lefau Harry Schuster, but there was the mindset that if no lawyer or court case was involved it wasn’t real.
The rich have an advantage in disputes taken to court, said Lefau, a former District Court Judge.
If mediation works it lightens the work of the courts and means less expense for the parties involved, he said.
Mediation means less cost because mediators are alternatives to lawyers, Fiame said.
Chaired by the Chief Justice the Mediation Council’s other members are:
- A District Court Judge appointed by the chief Justice
- The President of Samoa Law Society or his or her nominee
- The Attorney General or his or her nominee
- The Ombudsman or his or her nominee
- The CEO of Justice of his or her nominee
- The President of Accredit Mediators of Samoa Association or his or her nominee.
- The President of Chamber of Commerce or his or her nominee
A member appointed by the Chief Justice in consultation with the other members of the council.