Roundtable discussion “The Court Mediation System in Canada”
On October 18, 2010 the RGSL in cooperation with the Canadian Embassy in Riga hosted a round table discussion "Court mediation system in Canada". The discussion was opened by H.E. Canadian Ambassador in Riga Scott Heatherington and was chaired by the Honourable Madame Justice Maria T. Linhares de Sousa of the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario, Canada.
Judge Maria T. Linhares de Sousa gave an overview of the development of mediation as one of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes in Canada since the 1970’s and 80’s. At that time, the total cost of litigation in family cases had reached an average of 50-60 thousand dollars per family and, due to court overload, litigation lasted up to 5 years. These were some of the main factors why mediation and judicial settlement conference as types of ADR were introduced and applied to family cases.
While initially mediation in Canada was used only in family cases, its positive effects stimulated introduction of mediation in other areas (commercial, labour etc.). Currently, mediation is a mandatory pre-trial procedure in most civil cases. Surveys have concluded that, the earlier mediation is initiated, the greater is the chance for a successful resolution. And, in cases where the parties do not reach a settlement in mediation, often both parties and their lawyers have been satisfied with the mediation. As oppose to litigation, mediation focuses on parties’needs and values, and not positions.
Participants compared their experiences and discussed the issues related to the introduction of mediation in Latvia, for example, establishment of rosters of court mediators, self-regulation of professional mediator organizations, protection of confidentiality in mediation, mediator skills and techniques.
The discussion was attended by the representatives of the Riga Custody Court, State Probation Service, the Ombudsman's Office, the Latvian Bar, Riga Graduate School of Law, non-governmental organizations "Mediation and ADR", "Integrated mediation in Latvia, crisis centers "Mara Center "and" Skalbes ", Soros Foundation - Latvia as well as the Canadian and British Embassies.
Ulla Zumente-Steele, Lelde Kapina