Hong Kong launches consultation on promoting mediation services

21:00, February 08, 2010      

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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government on Monday said it has launched a consultation on boosting the use of mediation services in commercial disputes and at the community level.

The consultation came after the release of a report of the cross-sector working group chaired by Secretary for Justice Wang Yan Lung, who said mediation was increasingly considered the alternative or even preferred method.

"The time, costs, acrimony and uncertainty involved in traditional litigation raise hard issues as to whether the present dispute resolution process is adequate to meet the needs of justice and efficiency," he said.

The working group recommended that there should be a stand- alone mediation ordinance, which should set out its objectives and underlying principles, as well as key terminology such as " mediation" and "mediator".

It should also include provisions dealing with the rules of confidentiality and privilege, as well as setting out the statutory exceptions to the rules and the sanctions for breaching such rules, the report said.

The working group has no objection in principle to include model rules in the ordinance, although it thinks this is not really necessary. Any model mediation rules should only serve as a guide and not be made mandatory, said the report.

It is not necessary to include a statutory mechanism for enforcing mediated settlement agreements, and the judiciary should not provide mediation services nor introduce compulsory referral to mediation at the current stage, it added.

Source: Xinhua
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