Short abstracts of the presentations were submitted by many of the speakers in advance of the conference. The titles of those that were submitted are underlined; to view those abstracts, click on the title.

Title: Impetus To Mediation Through A New Initiative – Evolving Model Mediation Clinic In Law Schools

Lead Presenter: Bharti Kumar



Session Abstract: The paper seeks to focus on the possibility of evolving Model Mediation Clinic to be adopted by Law schools across India. Presently, clinical legal education is sought to be imparted mainly through the adoption of mandatory clinic courses in the legal curriculum. There is proliferation of legal aid clinics including for criminal matters, for civil matters as family and related issues, commercial disputes etc. However, mediation clinics may be a novel initiative (so far devoid) in that it may entail student participation for dispute resolution through informal means on issues as neighborhood contentions; Peer Mediation; eCommerce dispute resolution; environmental issues etc. that lend themselves easily as subject matters for a speedy, efficient and economical resolution that is participative, voluntary, consensual, confidential and mutually beneficial. It also secures access to justice without over-burdening the courts through a docket explosion of cases. Indian ‘Panchayat’ tradition of mediative solution (Village Council) have been reinvented in contemporary times, adapted to modern cannons of justice and procedure, reflecting a credible status in the legal paraphernalia of creative solutions. The present Indian ADR system does not however reflect adequately upon mediation through appropriate laws, regulations or standards except to the extent where it is incorporated as court annexed mediation represented through Section 89 of CPC Amendment Act of 1999. There is, thus, a gross insufficiency of community mediation. Law schools portend a huge potential for spurring the mediation movement across the Indian nation due to spatial locational advantage and having law students familiar through mandated teaching of ADR so they are able to conduct mediation clinics with additional input of training certification and experience vide exposure to sessions in courts/private mediations. Law school students as mediators may become independent, impartial, objective guides for bringing peaceful solutions to conflicts that may escalate into full blown litigations. As also is an ardent objective achieved, of internalizing norms pertaining to conflict resolution techniques in people’s life. Peer Mediation may be one of thrust areas of the clinic especially in view of increased violence across campuses in schools and colleges. Initiation of new students and related issues as ragging, hostel, room-mate, sports, debating and other activities are relevant for the purpose of peer mediation eventually signaling a cooperative, cordial and constructive approach to conflict resolution. This form of mediation assumes significance for children who are apt to be more receptive to their counterparts as mediators. Again, there has been an eCommerce boom worth multi-billion Dollars and growing across shores too. Online Dispute Resolution is an effective mechanism for dispute settlement in view of its advantages of cost saving, convenience, greater flexibility, more creative solutions, quicker decisions and avoidance of complicated jurisdictional issues. The oft quoted disadvantage of impersonal interaction is partially overcome through video conferencing and similar communication. In view of the bourgeoning Indian market for internet based commerce the likelihood of dissatisfaction with quality deficiency, delivery delays etc. may reach catastrophic proportions. Online mediation serves as an obvious redressal that obviates the need to litigation as a course of action. Law students may set up toll free help-lines for addressing concerns relating to cyber space commerce and direct them to the appropriate online redressal forum. Developmental concerns in modern times have progressed mainly at the cost of environment and sustainable development seems to be elusive. The exigencies of a developing economy as India tend to speed up clearances for infrastructural, industrial projects etc without commensurate attention to environmental concerns. The local level discontent of people with a particular project may be addressed through mediation exercise conducted at the clinic through involvement of law students. The concerns of various stakeholders interests may be represented and a suitable package may be worked out reflecting components as compensation, remedial cost to environment etc. In this paper an attempt shall be made to depict a “model mediation clinic,” encompassing the new and emerging dimensions of peer mediation, online dispute resolution, environmental mediation etc. through extensive and comprehensive empirical research, that may be operationalised in various law colleges across India with sufficient flexibility to suit local conditions. This effort may usher in a new era of a mediation movement independent of court annexed mediation that shall strengthen the justice system in the country.

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