White paper on mediation launched for public consultation

Mediation would see disputes resolved within 60 days

Dr Bonnici and Dr Attard Montalto at this morning's press conference (Photo by Reuben Piscopo, DOI)
Dr Bonnici and Dr Attard Montalto at this morning's press conference (Photo by Reuben Piscopo, DOI)

A white paper on mediation was launched this morning for public consultation by Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, in a bid to amend the 2004 Mediation Act.

The amendments propose for a new mediator to be appointed within 15 days with the intention of resolve disputes within 60 days. There will also be provisions to allow video conferencing between parties as well as a provision allowing the government to promote schemes for mediation.

If parties feel that no agreement can be reached, an ‘opt out’ clause will also be allowed.

Amendments to the Act are an electoral pledge as the government promotes new methods for resolving disputes outside of court.

“Abroad, mediation is as important a tool as the courts in resolving disputes and the hope is that the amendments in the white paper will allow Malta to move in the same direction,” Bonnici told a news conference.

“Mediation has many advantages when compared to settling issues in court, namely that it is cheaper and faster.”

According to the minister, since the enactment of the 2004 Mediation Act the country has “experienced mixed results” with mediation. He acknowledged that there has also been some notable success stories such as in dealing with family disputes, approximately half of which are settled through mediation.

“The government is making clear where it wants to arrive in this regard and is now asking stakeholders to be a part of the discussion,” Mark Attard Montalto, Chairperson of the Mediation Centre, added.

Among other proposals, Attard Montalto said parties will be allowed to choose a mediator that is not on the centre’s official list of mediators as long as both parties are in agreement.

The white paper is open to public consultation till the end of September and practitioners and the general public can send feedback on [email protected]

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