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Saint Lucia: Awareness Campaign on Mediation Launched

(June 12, 2017) In a press release issued by the Saint Lucia Registry of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), the Registry has launched an island-wide sensitization and awareness campaign on mediation as an alternative means of dispute resolution. The press release states, “[m]ediation is a structured dispute resolution process where an impartial third party, the Mediator, meets with disputants in an effort to identify the issues, explore options and clarify goals, outside of a court environment.” (Press Release, The Registry of the Supreme Court Embarks on Sensitization Campaign (May 18, 2017), SAINT LUCIA NEWS ONLINE; Government Information Service, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Introduces Mediators as Part of Legal Proceedings, SAINT LUCIA NEWS ONLINE (May 10, 2017).) According to the ECSC website, “[e]ach Member State [of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States] has its own Court Office, which, in addition to the High Court Registry, houses the office of the local High Court judge(s). Filing in the Registries commences the proceedings in matters before the High Court in each of the nine territories and the Court of Appeal.”  (Court Overview, ECSC website (last visited June 12, 2017).)

Mediation procedures are regulated under the mediation provisions connected to the courts, which were issued pursuant to the ECSC Civil Procedure Rules 2000 and supplement thereto (ECSC website (2001)). In accordance with Practice Direction (PD) No. 1 of 2003, issued under the rules, “[c]ourt-connected mediation will be managed on a regional and national basis.” (PD § 3, ECSC website.) The PD authorizes the referral to mediation of any civil action filed in court. It also provides parties with the right to request such a referral order, based on their consent and notification of the court that they wish to have their case referred to mediation. (Id. § 4.) The PD’s supplement lays down additional procedures for the conduct of court-connected mediation. (Id. § 8.)

The campaign on mediation in Saint Lucia was launched as part of the observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the ECSC. According to the Saint Lucia Registry press release, the campaign is “prudent considering the number of civil and criminal cases filed in our court system every year.” (The Registry of the Supreme Court Embarks on Sensitization Campaign, supra.) The Registry has therefore extended an invitation to persons in six defined communities “to come and hear about Mediation and its benefits, gain insight into which cases could be mediated and how one can request to have his/her case mediated.” (Id.)

Members of a panel assembled at a conference held at the Santa Lucia Government Information Service on May 8, 2017, clarified that unlike judges, mediators do not decide cases or impose settlements. A mediator’s role is to assist the disputing parties to communicate and negotiate with each other. Improved communications are expected to result in finding a resolution “based on common understanding and mutual agreement in strict confidence.” (Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Introduces Mediators as Part of Legal Proceedings, supra.)