Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is supporting Sri Lanka’s efforts to improve its investment climate by enhancing access to commercial alternative dispute resolution (ADR). 

This initiative has led to the US-sponsored training and accreditation of 23 international commercial mediators in Sri Lanka, doubling the number of qualified mediators in Sri Lanka capable of offering businesses a faster and less expensive alternative to traditional court litigation for resolving disputes.

Under USAID’s Efficient and Effective Justice (EEJ) project, these 23 mediators have undergone extensive training in key areas such as communication, problem-solving, managing emotions, and overcoming impasses. The training was conducted by the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC), a renowned independent, not-for-profit organisation specialising in ADR and ADR training. Following a four-month mentorship program, these mediators will apply their new skills to facilitate around 100 commercial mediations in Sri Lanka by October 2026.

Commercial mediation, a key form of ADR, provides a quicker resolution for disputes between businesses, or between businesses and government or consumers. This method is not only cost-effective but also aims to preserve business relationships. Additionally, it supports international trade by ensuring that international settlement agreements can be enforced more effectively.

At a ceremony honouring the newly trained commercial mediators, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Doug Sonnek said: “The United States is dedicated to collaborating with Sri Lanka to create a favourable investment climate by embracing international best practices. This partnership not only equips mediators with essential skills to sidestep expensive litigation but also supports their ongoing development, thereby contributing to economic resilience and growth in Sri Lanka.”

USAID provides extensive support for ADR in Sri Lanka. The EEJ project collaborates with local and international experts to provide training in commercial mediation, negotiation, and ADR best practices to lawyers, law students, ADR centres, and companies. Furthermore, EEJ is involved in pilot programs for judicial and court-referred mediation in partnership with the Court of Appeal and Commercial High Courts, aiming to resolve disputes swiftly and reduce delays and backlogs in the justice system. Through these comprehensive initiatives, EEJ enhances the overall efficacy of the judicial process in Sri Lanka. 

FT