Court takes steps to mediate in family disputes

| 11/02/2016 | 8 Comments

mediation(CNS): In an effort to introduce mediation services for some family cases in the local legal system, a number of local judges, magistrates, attorneys and senior court staff have been involved in accredited mediation training by the London School of Mediation (LSM). Fifteen people are expected to sit the necessary examination for the official qualification to enable the Cayman courts to introduce a less confrontational means of resolving divorce and other family disputes.

The courts are planning to introduce mediation services later this year for suitable family cases, which is expected to reduce expensive protracted legal proceedings. A committee has already drafted rules that will come into force once all administrative arrangements are in place, according to a release from the courts. The process will begin with mandatory mediation information and assessment meetings, allowing the parties to assess their options.

“This will be a completely different role for judges. As a mediator, they are not judging or deciding, but encouraging and facilitating parties to arrive at a settlement,” said Chief Justice Anthony Smellie. “Ultimately, all new family cases, including divorce matters and all matters involving the welfare of a child, apart from cases in which the state has had to intervene, will be automatically referred for mediation.

Parties that ultimately choose mediation can retain legal or other support for the process to ensure no one is disadvantaged and the may opt out at any point.

“Mediation is not for all disputes, but many of the most complex disputes that aren’t resolved through negotiation are resolved in mediation,” said Judith Kelbie, the Director of the London School of Mediation, a member of the three-person team who was in Cayman for the training. She said that at least 80% of cases across all dispute categories that opt for mediation are resolved, and while it may not be an option for every case, it continues to prove itself to be a creative way to find solutions.

“Mediation encourages creative solutions that can go beyond what a court can do,” she said, noting that it offered a confidential environment “without prejudice” that challenges, probes and explores options and risks. It also means that if a case still ends up in the court, nothing said or done during the mediation process will have any consequences.

Kelbie said it was a “steep learning curve” for the 15 Cayman candidates who took the course but she hoped some of her passion for resolving disputes via mediation had been left with them.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wonder if that would work for someone who can’t keep his hands off his twenty something princess, as soon as his wife’s back is turned.

  2. Happier now tho says:

    Has to be a good thing. I paid around 20k for my lawyer to sit down with my ex’s lawyer over lunch a few times. Possably Happy Hour

  3. Anonymous says:

    How many Caymanians were on the course and did Government pay?

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