(ZIZ News) – In an effort to increase the cadre of trained mediators in St. Kitts and Nevis, the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project is hosting a course on community mediation, specifically for the legal community.
The project, according to Regional Director Velma Newton, has five major components including the drafting of modern legislation for the region and working with bar associations.
She mentioned, however, that the main focus of the five-day workshop is to work on updating procedures in a few key areas.
She said, “The main focus for us right now is upgrading accounting, disciplinary standards and encouraging the implementation of (a) continuing legal professional department. To that end, the model Legal Profession Act that we are currently drafting will contain modern and updated procedures in relation to those three areas especially.”
Newton said community mediation is also an area of focus as it will assist in easing the caseload of the court.
“What we want to do as well is to train community mediators because it is our view that if we have people in the field who can assist colleagues and friends at a community level in dealing with minor disputes, it will deflect a lot of cases from the court. After this training, we want to reach community leaders and I’ll be discussing with the Minister of Community Development; I’m yet to meet him or her and hope to do it in the next few days; in assisting us in choosing community leaders who we can train in mediation,” Newton added.
Vice President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association, Damian Kelsick said the organisation is pleased with attorneys’ level of interest in the training.
He said, “The project was launched less than 6 months ago but this is already the second time that our Bar has benefitted from it. In June 2015, Professor Newton brought to St. Kitts Michael Hilton QC of the Jamaica Bar, who gave a presentation on the topic “Continuing Legal Professional Education- the Jamaica Experience”. The presentation was well attended by members of our BAR. The large turnout today (Monday 5th) of members of the profession justifies the decision taken and heartens the Bar Council especially with Law Week upcoming at the end of this month.”
The ongoing workshop is being facilitated by Paul Hines, Chief Executive Officer of the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica.