Orientation Training Programme for Arb-Med

Gujarat [India], May 24: Gujarat State Legal Services Authority has organized Orientation Training Programme on “Arb-Med” (Arbitration – Mediation) for integrating the concept of mediation in Commercial Arbitration. Under the able guidance of Hon’ble Mrs. Sunita Agarwal, the Chief Justice, High Court of Gujarat & Patron-in-Chief, GSLSA and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Biren Vaishnav, Executive Chairman, GSLSA, five days’ intensive training has been imparted to 11 shortlisted Advocates dealing exclusively in commercial cases and arbitration matters by Mr. Tariq Khan, Senior Mediator from Hyderabad International Arbitration & Mediation Centre and Mr. A J. Jawad, Senior Mediator from Training for excellence in Arbitration & Mediation, Chennai.

While floating the idea of Arb-Med for the first time in the country, Hon’ble The Chief Justice emphasized that though Arbitration is one of the modes of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which contemplates minimal intervention of the courts, seldom one finds the dispute referred to Arbitration which is not dragged to a Court of law as part of application for setting aside of award. In the newly enacted Mediation Act, 2023, word ‘Mediation’ is defined in Section 2(h) which includes the process of conciliation also.

In arbitral reference, also endeavour is to be made by the Arbitral Tribunal before commencement or even during Arbitral proceedings to explore the possibility of settlement. In this regard, reference of Arb-Med is noteworthy. It is a hybrid, two­ stage Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process to resolve commercial disputes, and has been recognised as a preferred mode for resolving wide range of commercial disputes.

However, the experience suggests that efforts in this regard have become mechanical and casual. It is, thus, felt that if a system of mediation (in form of conciliation) is introduced in Arbitration, particularly commercial Arbitration, wherein the professionally trained mediators attempt to mediate between the parties and collaborative process is adopted, there are chances that many disputes can be resolved at the inception itself. The above idea is suitable in the State of Gujarat as large portion of population is primarily engaged in commerce and industries.

To achieve this objective, the institutionalisation of mediation is needed. A full­ fledged Mediation Centre equipped with trained Mediators from amongst experienced practicing lawyers in the High Court is the need of the hour. With this purpose, a training to lawyers engaged in the commercial disputes to act as a mediator in Arbitral Reference could be a good idea.

The training was organized at Gujarat State Judicial Academy in two phases whereby on 4th & 5th May, 2024 broader facets of mediation associated with commercial dispute were deliberated and in depth training had been imparted to shortlisted 11 advocates during 20th – 22nd May, 2024. All the participants had a sound legal background and they felt that the concept of Arb-Med indeed is innovative and could be effective in dispute resolution in Gujarat as majority of commercial disputes involve family ties.

Very soon a mediation room/centre especially for Gujarat High Court Arbitration Centre is proposed to be established wherein the arbitral referrals involving relatively smaller claims, the claims involving family members and MSME disputes can be referred. The legal fraternity in the State of Gujarat has welcomed the initiative.

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