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IFC Helps Solomon Islands Launch Mediation Training to Resolve Disputes Faster

Honiara, Solomon Islands, June 10, 2010 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping the Solomon Islands establish a mediation mechanism that will provide the public and business community with a way to resolve disputes quickly, cost effectively, and on good terms.
Today, Albert Palmer, Solomon Islands’ Chief Justice, officially launched the first phase of the mediation training program at a presentation ceremony for 20 trainee mediators.  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 them to help reach a mutually agreeable and lasting solution.
The aim of the training program is to accredit professionals who will undertake mediations at the High Court and the Magistrates Courts in the Western, Malaita, and Makira/Ulawa provinces.  IFC helped the High Court develop mediation rules and deliver training.  Awareness workshops were also held for lawyers, government officials, the private sector, and civil society.
“Establishing court-referred mediation is an important development for the Solomon Islands’ legal system,” said Chief Justice Albert Palmer, who also presides over the court’s steering committee on mediation.  “Mediation will enable the court to help parties resolve disputes fairly and quickly.”
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 takes on average 37 procedures and 455 days in the Solomon Islands for both parties to resolve the dispute, at a cost of 78.9 percent of the claim amount, using standard litigation processes.
“If the parties agree to court-referred mediation, the disputed matter could be resolved within a week,” said Jonathon Kirkby, IFC’s Pacific Investment Climate Manager.  “For those that have neither time nor money to go through the standard litigation process, mediation can be extremely beneficial.”
IFC is working with the Solomon Islands’ government to improve the business environment, supporting economic growth and job creation through private sector development.  The governments of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan support IFC’s program in the Solomon Islands.
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 capital for private enterprise, 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 .