Mediation Center welcomed on Nevis

CHARLESTOWN NEVIS, January 23, 2008 – Joseph Parry, premier of Nevis, said that the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Mediation Centre on Nevis could not have come at a better time for the island, in light of its growing economy and expanding population. He said the  facility was an indication of the importance the government had attached to law and order on the island.
Parry made the observation on Thursday January 17, 2008, at a ceremony to launch the new facility on Government Road in Charlestown.  The event brought Nevis in line with a number of jurisdictions throughout the Caribbean who had already implemented the mediation programme. 
“We are not first in the Mediation Programme, I understand we are last but nevertheless I have been assured … that we are the best and … that it is an indication of how serious we as a government take the business of law and order and the rule of law on Nevis. I must reiterate that law and order is very important in our society. We see seeds of growing crime, we see drug related activities and we notice problems in the schools. We also have an increase in divorces and other problems and I do believe that this mediation exercise is very timely,” he said.
Parry said though the practise of mediation in various forms was nothing new to the culture of Nevis, the Centre would provide a welcome break for the Courts and lawyers and would serve the people of Nevis well.
Meantime, Chairman of the Mediation Committee and Resident Judge in St. Kitts Justice Francis Belle, said the Centre was an integral part of the court system and he offered his gratitude to the government for an adequate facility. 
“We are very happy that the government has taken the step to have this facility made available for mediation in Nevis. I have had the opportunity to inspect it and I am very, very happy with what I see.
“The basics are there and there are a few frills so we know for example in every mediation centre we need the actual mediation area where the persons will meet and conduct mediations and we also need what we call a breakout space whether it is an office or a room of some sort we need that and of course we need a reception area and this facility has all of those things. It has adequate privacy and we think that the building is well appointed and comfortable. So I do not think we could have asked for more,” he said.
Justice Belle noted that it was the Committee’s hope that the Mediation Centre would have a positive impact on the community in the medium to long term while in the short term, the committee would seek to continue to convince the community that it is a very important exercise and feature for the community.
The Judge explained that mediation would hopefully cut down on the amount of time involved in litigation; cut down on the amount of cost and both of which were important to productivity in any community.  In addition he said it was hoped that the persons trained in mediation would use those skills not only in the exercise of the actual process of the court but also in their daily lives.
“We have had to train mediators for both St. Kitts and Nevis. Those mediators were accredited to be up to the standards to actually conduct the mediation exercise and then those mediators are then chosen by the parties in the mediation prior to the mediation hearing and all of this is written in the practice direction which spawns the rules so to speak for mediation…
“It is very important to understand that the mediator is not a judge, the mediator has no power to make court orders on the behalf of the court the mediator is trained to assist the parties and this has happened as a result of basically persons recognizing over the years that many, many cases that are filed really do not go to trial and indeed if the parties are given an opportunity to talk they would indeed resolve the issue long before trial,” he said.
Mediation will be governed by a committee would set a timetable for mediation; monitor how the mediations progressed, performed; make sure that the necessary fees are paid being on intermediary balances on the account; make sure that the Committee had money in the bank which was a part of the whole process to ensure that the lawyers were educated from time to time about the process of mediation.
The Mediation Programme was launched in St. Kitts in March 2006 when a Mediation Centre was opened there. However, the Mediation Committee was established in 2003.
Also in attendance at the ceremony was visiting Nevisian born Appeals Court Judge, Justice Hugh Rawlins, Attorney General of St. Kitts and Nevis Honourable Dennis Merchant. Deputy Governor General His Honour Mr. Eustace John and President of the Nevis Island Assembly Mrs. Maudry Morton.