Explore mediation, courts should be last resort for dispute resolution: CJI Ramana

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Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Saturday said the business community should explore the alternate dispute resolution mechanism like mediation, conciliation, and arbitration to resolve disputes, rather than going to courts, which should be the last resort.

Justice Ramana was speaking at the ‘Stakeholders’ Conclave’ at the International Arbitration and Mediation Centre, Hyderabad. He said in business, differences of opinions should be initially sorted through a dialogue and if this doesn’t work then parties should look for people who can resolve the issue by negotiation. He said: “If this also doesn’t work, then the only option people consider is to go to courts. My advice, after participating in the legal profession for over 40 years in different capacities, is that you must keep the option of going to courts as a last resort”.

He added, “Use this last resort only after exploring the option of ADR (alternate dispute resolution) — arbitration, mediation and conciliation. Arbitration and mediation are efforts at restoring a relationship”.

He said every day in our lives, “we face conflicts – be it between family members or in our business or professional life”. Justice Ramana said nobody can imagine a world without conflicts. “Conflicts have a human face and it helps to be humane in our approach to resolve the same. One must have the foresight to look beyond the conflict”, he said.

He said the most important factor behind the resolution of any dispute is having the right attitude. “By right attitude, I mean we should leave aside our ego, emotions, impatience and embrace practicality. But, once these conflicts enter a Court, much gets lost in the practice and procedure”, he added.

Justice Ramana cited various reasons for opting for mediation or arbitration over traditional litigation, saying its benefits are manifold: fewer delays, less expensive, greater party choice, more control, more comfortable and amicable environment for the parties etc.

Justice Ramana said despite the presence of some arbitration centers in India, Indian parties that enter into an international arbitration agreement often opt for an arbitration centre outside India incurring huge expenses. “The setting up of this International Arbitration and Mediation Centre in Hyderabad will change this trend in India. This Centre is being established with the best infrastructure and the empanelling of internationally acclaimed arbitrators and mediators”, he added.

Justice Ramana said the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, provides an example of an early attempt at mediation as a conflict resolution tool, where Lord Krishna attempted to mediate the dispute between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Justice Ramana said: “It may be worthwhile to recall that the failure of mediation led to disastrous consequences”.

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