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New IFC Initiative to Help Solomon Islands Courts Resolve Disputes Quickly

Honiara, Solomon Islands, January 22, 2010 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is supporting the Solomon Islands’ judicial system in introducing a mediation framework, which will help Solomon Islanders resolve disputes quickly and on good terms.
IFC held a workshop this week for the Court’s Steering Committee on Mediation and a series of consultations with other interested organizations, including the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Solomon Islands Christian Association.  The workshop involved designing a plan to introduce a formal mediation framework, and the drafting of mediation rules for the court.  IFC’s program in the Solomon Islands is supported by the governments of Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.
“This initiative is an exciting development for the Solomon Islands’ legal system,” said Chief Justice Albert Palmer, who also presides over the Court’s Mediation Steering Committee.  “Mediation will extend the court’s services and help parties resolve their differences fairly and quickly.”
Mediation is a confidential and informal way of resolving a dispute between parties, with the help of a neutral third person—a mediator.  Parties are referred by a court to participate in mediation if all parties consent.  The mediator works with the parties to help them reach a mutually agreeable, practical, and lasting solution to their differences.
A typical dispute between parties may involve a business contract disagreement between a buyer and seller.  According to the IFC-World Bank’s Doing Business 2010 report, it would take on average 37 procedures and 455 days in the Solomon Islands for both parties to resolve the dispute, at a cost of 79 percent of the claim amount, using standard litigation processes.
“If the parties agreed to court-referred mediation, the disputed matter could be resolved within a week,” said Sonali Hedditch, IFC’s Pacific Mediation Program Manager.  “We are pleased to be involved in helping to ease the case load in the court system, as well as assisting parties that have neither the time nor money to go through the standard litigation process.”
IFC is the only international financial institution focused exclusively on the private sector, the engine of sustainable development in emerging markets. Along with IBRD , it is currently seeking a capital increase to strengthen its ability to create opportunity for the poor in developing countries—including by helping to introduce mediation into the Solomon Islands in order to resolve disputes more effectively.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit www.ifc.org .