Parliament Passes Mediation Bill, Promoting Effective Resolution of Disputes Through Alternative Means

Mediation Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: 8 August 2023 at 14:10 IST

The Lok Sabha has successfully passed the Mediation Bill, 2023, building on its prior approval by the Rajya Sabha last week.

This legislative achievement underscores the importance of utilizing mediation as a primary avenue for resolving civil or commercial disputes before resorting to formal legal proceedings.

Mediation Bill, 2023 aims to streamline mediation processes, particularly institutional mediation, to facilitate the efficient resolution of a wide spectrum of disputes, whether they are commercial or non-commercial in nature.

A central component of the legislation involves enforcing mediated settlement agreements. Moreover, the Bill outlines the creation of a mediator registration body, encourages the adoption of community-based mediation, and advocates for the integration of online mediation as a cost-effective and efficient procedure.

Key Features of the Mediation Bill Enabling Alternative Dispute Resolution

Pre-Litigation Mediation Mandate:
Section 6 of the Bill introduces a mandate wherein parties involved in civil or commercial lawsuits or legal proceedings are required to pursue pre-litigation mediation efforts before embarking on formal legal actions, irrespective of the presence of a prior mediation agreement.

Defining Pre-Litigation Mediation:
Pre-litigation mediation, as defined within the Bill, encompasses the process of engaging in mediation to resolve disputes prior to initiating formal legal proceedings.

Exclusions from Mediation:
The legislation introduces a categorized list of disputes outlined in “Schedule-I” that are considered unsuitable for mediation. This category encompasses disputes marked by serious allegations of fraud, document fabrication, forgery, impersonation, coercion, and criminal offenses, among others.

Court Referrals to Mediation:
The Bill explicitly clarifies that its provisions do not prohibit courts from referring disputes to mediation if deemed appropriate, especially in instances involving compoundable or matrimonial offenses related to civil proceedings between the involved parties.

Mediation Timeline:
The legislation stipulates that the mediation process should conclude within 180 days from the initial engagement of a mediator. However, this timeline is extendable through mutual agreement between the parties, with a maximum extension not exceeding 180 days.

Establishment of Mediation Council:
A pivotal aspect of the Mediation Bill is the establishment of the Mediation Council of India by the central government. This council’s composition includes a chairperson, two full-time members with expertise in mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR), three ex-officio members – including the Law Secretary and Expenditure Secretary – and a part-time member representing an industry body.

Council Functions:
The Council’s significant responsibilities encompass the registration of mediators, recognition of mediation service providers and institutes for the purpose of mediator training, education, and certification.

Innovative Community Mediation:
The legislation introduces the novel concept of “Community mediation,” allowing for the resolution of disputes that could potentially disturb peace and harmony among local residents or families through community-mediated means. This approach necessitates mutual consent from the involved parties, with applications submitted to the relevant Authority as established by the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, or to the District Magistrate or Sub-Divisional Magistrate in areas without such an Authority.

A Comprehensive Step Forward:
The Mediation Bill marks a significant stride towards fortifying alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and advancing more efficient and harmonious processes for resolving conflicts.

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