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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 141943 Find in a Library
Journal: Forum  Dated:(Winter 1993)  Pages:33-37
Author(s): P B Herat
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 5
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reviews the history of community-based dispute resolution in Sri Lanka from approximately 425 B.C. through relevant current and pending legislation and into projections for the future.
Abstract: In 425 B.C., when Sri Lanka was ruled by monarchs, village councils, presided over by village elders or minor officials, heard and resolved disputes among neighbors. After the British conquest of Sri Lanka in 1815, village councils were made an important adjunct of the formal courts established by the British. The effectiveness of the village council waned, however; by the middle of the 19th Century there was no mention of village councils in historical records. In 1871, court congestion led the British to establish village tribunals as an inexpensive, prompt, and popular means for settling disputes. In 1945, the village tribunals were changed to formal courts called rural courts. By 1958, court congestion again became a serious problem, and the government established conciliation boards to settle minor disputes and avoid acrimony between disputants, costly and time-consuming litigation, and crime that resulted from petty disputes. These conciliation boards were distinct and separate entities outside the hierarchy of formal courts. The major criticism of this system pertained to the quality of conciliators, inordinate delays, bias, and the misuse of summons power. In an effort to remedy these flaws, the Mediation Boards Act was passed to provide for the appointment of an independent Mediation Boards Commission responsible for the selection, transfer, dismissal, and disciplinary control of mediators. A training component was built into the law. In the third year of its existence, the Mediation Boards scheme has encountered a few problems. Proposals for change pertain to the authority of boards to compel appearance of the parties, the selection of boards for individual disputes, an increase in the money value of civil disputes before mediators, remuneration of board members, and the inclusion of local governmental entities as parties in disputes. For the future, this article recommends more training for mediators and strict compliance with the principles of voluntary and noncoercive mediation.
Main Term(s): Alternative dispute settlement
Index Term(s): Dispute processing; Dispute resolution; Mediation; Sri Lanka
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