[Source: Office of the Attorney-General/ Facebook]
Lautoka High Court Judge, Justice Anare Tuilevuka is calling on lawyers to rethink about their attitude towards Alternative Dispute Resolution.
He made the comments to lawyers taking part in the Attorney General’s Conference in Nadi, saying the number of pending civil cases before the courts is high.
Justice Tuilevuka says from January 2020 until last month, the average number of civil cases initiated per year in Lautoka is around 509, while for Suva it stands at 318.
“The national average of civil cases initiated in the high court every year would be well above the 1,000 mark. This is not even counting civil appeals from the magistrate’s court, winding up petitions and other non-criminal processes such as judicial review, employment cases, etc.”
Justice Tuilevuka says they are seeing similar trends with commercial cases, which should be resolved through ADR.
Why do parties still prefer to bring their commercial disputes to court over ADR options? Given those problems, I’m not aware of any study has ever been undertaking in Fiji on this. Some of the related questions might be, is it true that litigants generally prefer to bring their commercial disputes to court rather than through arbitration or mediation? And if that is true, why?
The Lautoka High Court Judge stresses that mediation can assist in the disposal of a good number of commercial cases.
An ad hoc Civil Division Rules Committee has been appointed to look at the current rules of the High Court and Magistrates Court.
The committee will present its final paper to the Chief Justice by the first week of February.