LLB students to be taught mediation from next year
Starting next year, law students who enrol for three- or five-year Bachelor’s courses will also be taught mediation, an alternative disputes redressal (ADR) mechanism, opening up a new avenue avenues for aspiring lawyers who so far have to choose between corporate practice or litigation.
The chairman of the Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said this week that the apex disciplinary body for lawyers is in deliberations with top experts in the field of mediation to prepare the curriculum.
Speaking at a felicitation program, which BCI organised for Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde on Monday, Mishra said the council was consulting senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a pioneer in the field of mediation.
BCI, also the regulatory body for legal education in the country, initiated the process to introduce mediation at college level pursuant to CJI Bobde’s suggestion last week. At present, mediation training is imparted to practising lawyers either by the high courts or the Supreme Court. Some institutes also offer short-term courses in mediation.
Over the last few years mediation, has emerged as a successful ADR mechanism for property and matrimonial disputes, and, in some cases, corporate fights. Mediation can be explored in two stages – pre-litigation or post-litigation. In both situations, the unanimous settlement arrived at is treated as final and cannot be challenged.
As a judge, CJI Bobde has often said he prefers mediation to litigation. He was part of the five-judge bench that referred the Ayodhya land dispute to a mediation panel of three members for an amicable resolution to the contentious dispute, before the court went ahead to decide the matter.
Panchu was one of the members of the Ayodhya mediation panel that was headed by former SC judge, Justice FMI Kalifullah, and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Speaking to HT, Panchu said training law students for mediation will benefit aspiring lawyers. “Whatever field they choose later, mediation training will help them deal with situations in a better way. Also, at the moment, court-annexed mediation is popular but future will be for professional mediators...to train them at college level will give students a headstart,” he said.
“There is a need for pre-litigation mediation. Mediation is a non-adjudicative and voluntary form of settling disputes that is conducted in the shadow of the law and necessitates the participation of lawyers in assisting mediators in the dispensation of cases due to the legal expertise that a lawyer can provide. The existence of a qualified mediation bar would enable the lawyers to contribute effectively to the justice delivery system, while satisfying their monetary needs as well,” CJI said at the BCI event.
Senior advocate JP Sengh, who was part of the team that started the mediation centre in Delhi high court, said BCI’s move to introduce mediation to law students at college level is a welcome one. “It will benefit not just the institution but also the legal profession,” he said.