SENIOR Counsel and chairman of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) company Dialogue Solutions Ltd (DSL) Reginald Armour said ADR can assist TT with the country's ease of doing business.
He was speaking at a DSL launch event earlier this month at the DSL offices at Wainwright Street, St Clair.
He said the World Bank, in its 2019 Ease of Doing Business Report, shows the cost and slow pace of litigation has become a challenge to business development. He pointed out TT ranks 105 out of 190 countries for ease of doing business, 30 points behind Jamaica and 12 points behind St Lucia.
"A significant part of that ranking has to do with how disputes are resolved. The report points to the fact that those countries whose rating improved over the last year are those who introduced appropriate or ADR to their legislative framework. And that is the direction that DSL is hoping to take this country."
He said some of DSL's board members worked on the Arbitration Bill, which should be brought to Parliament by this year or early next year.
"Defending and growing our democracy may often require taking challenges to court. But litigation is not necessarily the first resort or always in a country's best interest."
He said part of the discipline of ADR is to listen.
"When someone is struck to the core with a problem that brings out emotional low points, anger, hurt and frustration sometimes all they want is a forum in which the other person, whether it is the mediator or the disputant, listens to them for a while."
Caribbean Court of Justice president Justice Adrian Saunders, in his remarks, said he endorsed the concept advocated for by DSL.
"Because I am firmly of the view that the best resolutions to any dispute are those that emerge from meaningful engagement and consistent dialogue between or among the parties to a dispute. Resolution of a dispute whether by mediation, arbitration, conciliation or otherwise should not ideally be regarded as being an alternative to the court system as much as part and parcel of an overall system that seeks to afford the most appropriate mechanism for resolution of that dispute."
Saunders said ADR mechanisms can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system by expediting case flow.
"They take out of the system those cases that can be resolved extra-judicially, thus leaving judges and court staff with more time to concentrate on those matters that absolutely require judicial input."
International Labour Organisation deputy director Lars Johansen said ADR – such as negotiation, mediation and arbitration – is ultimately better, faster, more effective and cheaper, than the steps coming after, such as litigation, or in cases of a collective labour dispute–strike.
"Although the Caribbean is a region with a relatively strong culture of dialogue as part of labour relations, and various examples of important institutions and mechanisms of dialogue, there is large variation across the region and still important strides to be made in order to have true, well-functioning and effective mechanisms for social dialogue."