Participants of the round table in the Appellate Court of Volyn region
Mediation in civil court – myth or reality? On May 18, 2016 these issues were discussed during the round table with the participation of judges in Volyn region, National Association of Mediators of Ukraine and representatives of USAID Fair Justice Project. It is significant that the event took place in premises of the Appellate Court in Volyn region and became one of the last in the framework of the project "Support to development of mediation in eight courts of Volyn region as alternative method of conflict resolution" implemented by Volyn regional public organization "Legal Aid Center".
The resolution of conflicts peacefully through mediation is the most important priority in the work of judges in Volyn region. Of course, not all judges are ready to offer this model of dispute settlement, because they are restricted with the formal obstacle that can be removed only by the Law. However, those that already do it understand its importance and the feasibility of reforming the system and thus change the country.
“I think that today or tomorrow the Verkhovna Rada will adopt the Law on mediation. I even have no doubt. We are doing our best for this", said Oksana Zavydovska-Marchuk, judge of the Appellate Court.
Olena Matviychuk, head of the project, the mediator and the Chairman of the Legal Aid Center presented the results of the implemented initiatives for over 2 years:
“The project started in October 2014, in the framework of which trainings were conducted for judges and mediators. Since the judicial process is quite complex and requires a considerable store of knowledge – only 3 of 12 mediators agreed to work in court. 137 individuals are involved in the mediation process. 48% are women and 52% are men. The first mediation was conducted with a prior approval of the court premises. Meetings with the parties in cases of Kovel district court were conducted directly in the premises of the Legal Aid Center. Altogether there were 106 preliminary meetings with the parties and 36 mediations 12 of which were successful, among them are mostly civil and family cases”.
The implementation of this project would not have been possible without the support of the USAID Fair Justice Project. Iryna Zaretska, the legal adviser of the USAID project said:
“I am very glad to be among people who are filled with desire to work for the benefit of others. Very happy that Olena Matviychuk came with the initiative to introduce mediation in eight courts of Volyn region and supported the project”.
Today the judges are convinced that understanding the needs of the parties is the key to success of conflict resolution. The district court judge Olga Turak noted:
“In all cases where I explained what mediation is and its benefits the parties agreed voluntarily to take part in it. Though, the mediation did not always end with the agreement. I recognized a settlement agreement in only one case, all the rest imposed judicial decisions. However, I note that working with those people who participated in the mediation process much is easier. I can definitely say – mediation is needed, it is necessary to use it, because it is one of the tools to increase the level of confidence in justice”.
After mediation 20 24 people said that they were surprised how easy it is to solve the problem. 18 out of 24 reported that the judge fully understood the problem and contributed the most to its solution. In several cases judges had to stop the mediation for domestic violence, and in 25% of cases it was not carried out until the end because of the position of a lawyer.
Olena Matviychuk noted that mediation is not a threat for the law environment, it is primarily support. However, now it is necessary to work with lawyers, as they oppose the introduction of mediation in court.
Diana Protsenko, President of NAM spoke about the activities of the Association:
“We were one of the main driving forces that moved the process for writing draft laws. We set ourselves objectives, which are aimed at market development, culture change, development of services and mediation promotion. Two draft laws passed all stages and the Committee resolved to recommend the draft law 3665 already for the hearings with all of the provisions of the alternative bill. We applaud and commend you to have managed to start such a project in the Volyn region and to collect interesting experience. And you have very loyal and correctly informed judges who know very well the process and how to use mediation”.
Richard Roman, a volunteer of the US Peace Corps in Ukraine in Kovel, told about mediation in the judicial system of the United States. He was working there as a mediator in a business environment: "In California there are two types of mandatory mediation, which are a success. The first one is in specialized courts of small claims. Here cases are sent to mediation, if they do not exceed 10 thousand dollars. The mediator is open every day and receives a fee from the state government in the amount of $ 50/hour. 50% of cases are always successful.
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