Experts at a webinar on Thursday stressed the advantages of mediation over arbitration and litigation as a dispute resolution tool, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has created an unprecedented challenge in the economic life.
They viewed the issues of preference of mediation to arbitration and litigation as an effective means of resolving disputes arising out of business contracts.
The virtual webinar on 'Mediation before Arbitration or Litigation?' was jointly organised by the Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre (BIAC), the first registered Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) institution of Bangladesh, and the International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR), India, an autonomous organisation under the aegis of the union government of India, says a statement.
Seven outstanding panellist discussants took part in the webinar. They focused on how mediation at this difficult time can help resolve commercial disputes in the most pragmatic, expeditious and cost-effective manner and why mediation should be preferred as a dispute resolution tool before resorting to a lengthy arbitration procedure or a judicial process given the colossal backlog of pending cases in the courts of Bangladesh and India.
Speaking on the occasion, Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, former adviser to the government of Bangladesh and an accredited mediator, emphasised the promotion of mediation as a dispute resolution mechanism both in Bangladesh and India, as Bangladesh has the maximum volume of trade relationship with India.
He highlighted the advantages of mediation over arbitration and formal court procedure and opined that unless a party is absolutely adamant, it is possible to resolve any business dispute through mediation.
Addressing the webinar, BIAC Chairman Mahbubur Rahman stressed the need for resorting to mediation as the most successful tool of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to handle commercial disputes and arrive at amicable settlements by the disputant parties in a minimum span of time.
He reiterated that the BIAC, as the country's first and only registered ADR facilitating organisation, will continue to work for institutionalising ADR mechanism in Bangladesh and the region.
Business leaders, experts from the legal fraternity, corporate houses, academicians, mediators and ADR specialists of high eminence from home and abroad participated in the largely attended webinar through Zoom transmission.
The webinar was moderated by Professor Dr. Farhana Helal Mehtab, Head of the Department of Law and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, Daffodil International University, Dhaka, who in course of the discussion preferred mediation to arbitration and litigation with a view to arriving at a consensual settlement of dispute.
Shams Mahmud, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and Managing Director of Shasha Denim Ltd. & Shasha Garments Ltd., said that mediation can help the garments and textile sectors as well as the SMEs to a great extent in settling business disputes and expressed willingness to work with the BIAC to mitigate disputes between parties arising out of contracts.
Taking part in the discussion, J L N Murthy, Regional Centre in Charge and Secretary, International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR), India, and Member, Governing Council, ICADR, narrated his Indian experience of mediation and ongoing legislative reforms with a view to creating a firm platform of mediation.
He said that mediation in India is now becoming part and parcel of the judiciary.
Barrister Rizwana Yusuf, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Associate, Dr. M. Zahir & Associates, Dhaka, viewed the issue from a lawyer's perspective and shared her experience of resolving scores of business disputes during the COVID-19 period which remained unresolved for five to seven years.
She said that mediation is the only pragmatic method for quick and least expensive resolution of business disputes.
Taking part in the deliberations, Kiran Bhardwaj, Advocate-on-Record & Mediator, Supreme Court of India, and Member, Governing Council, ICADR, opined that mediation, being the most flexible method of business dispute resolution, must be adhered to before resorting to the rigid procedure of arbitration and the time consuming, structured judicial proceedings.
Christabel Randolph, Director, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Marico Bangladesh Ltd., gave an insight into the methodical and less expensive procedure of mediation which can play a vital role in resolving disputes before opting for arbitration or adjudication.
She insisted on arranging more awareness campaigns by the BIAC with a view to motivating stakeholders to use mediation at the first instance to solve disputes between the parties.
Dr. Deepak Jindal, Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, India, and Member, Governing Council, ICADR, opined that law involves adjudication and arbitration is also a kind of expert proceedings, but mediation takes place between the parties through a third party facilitator which reduces use of unnecessary time.
He said that mediation is the most effective match between the parties to resolve issues in commercial contracts.
In his welcome address, BIAC CEO Muhammad A. (Rumee) Ali said that BIAC, as the only licensed ADR centre of Bangladesh, has mediation and other methods of ADR in their agenda.
He emphasised further cooperation with Indian ADR institutions to help resolve commercial disputes through mediation.
He urged business leaders, lawyers, mediators and exponents of ADR to come forward and join BIAC's efforts in quick and cost effective dispensation of business disputes for the greater interest of the country.
- Vengkateswar Rao, Additional Judge of the Odisha High Court, India, and M A Akmall Hossain Azad, Director, BIAC, also participated in the webinar.
The Daily Bonik Barta was the media partner of the event.