Mediation as a "win - win" situation for dispute resolution

01 Jan 2012

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“International Workshop on Mediation in Civil Disputes”, has been held in Istanbul in early December in the scope of the joint initiative of Ministry of Justice and UNDP Turkey on “Program for Improvement of Practice of Mediation in Civil Disputes in Turkey.

New Horizons - The workshop was held with high level participation from the relevant units of Ministry of Justice, Union of Bar Associations, Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, trade unions, 30 Bar Associations, family and commercial court judges around Turkey together with the leading experts and practitioners in the field of mediation in civil disputes around the globe including Morocco, France, Italy, US, Netherlands, Brazil, China, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and Greece.

There was also considerable interest to the event from the academia, civil society, active mediators in Turkey and media.

The workshop was held in an environment where the Draft Act on Mediation in Civil Disputes is being discussed at the Justice Commission of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

Therefore, it provided an important opportunity for the heads of Bar Associations and judges from family and commercial courts around Turkey to exchange experiences for the establishment of a well-functioning mediation system in Turkey and share their comments on the Draft Act, which are expected to be benefitted during the discussions at the Commission level.

During the workshop, vitally significant issues regarding the mediation in civil justice system, including but not limited to the process of establishment of the mediation system, institutional structuring of mediation, profile of mediators and mediation trainings were discussed.

In that respect, due to the resistance of some of the Bar Associations in Turkey towards the mediation practice, one of the outbreaking debates during the Workshop was about the profile of mediators in the context of Turkey along with the qualifications required and the quality of the mediation practice.

Experience sharing

At this point, regarding the profile of mediators in Turkey, the discussions were focused in two different dimensions:

i) the ways of providing knowledge and training for both practicing lawyers and law students so that the lawyers can participate in mediation; encouraging the lawyers to participate in the process; ii) training lawyers and law students on both how to mediate and how to be an advocate in mediation.

In addition to the discussions on the profile of mediators, leading participants and practitioners around the world also shared their experiences and knowledge with regards to cooperation of judges and lawyers for the promotion of mediation, practices of mandatory mediation, ensuring mediator quality and confidentiality in mediation practices.  

The Workshop also provided an opportunity to discuss about possible areas that the joint project of UNDP and Ministry of Justice can focus as pilot mediation practices.

As a result, there seems to be a general agreement that the family law is one of the leading areas that the pilot mediation practice can address because of the importance of preserving relationships after divorce for the sake of the children.

Another area in which mediation can be widely applied in pilots is agreed to be workplace disputes since the parties will often have a relationship after the disputes are resolved.