Approaching ADR as the Way Forward in Pakistan

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DNA

ISLAMABAD: Opting for alternate dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms is often argued to be the way forward as an alternative to litigation and for effectively solving endemic delays in the domestic courts. This narrative was considered and addressed at an international conference on “Expeditious Dispensation of Justice: ADR the Way Forward?” organized by the International Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution and Prevention (ICADRP), in collaboration with Safer Communities, Samdani & Qureshi, a reputed law firm working in the field of arbitration, and the Weinstein International Foundation, a US based foundation that focuses on mediation. It was also a formal launch of ICADRP.

After hosting the first day at Serena Hotel, Islamabad, conference’s second limb was continued in the honorable Islamabad High Court on 2nd September, 2022 in collaboration with the Islamabad High Court Bar Association, under the auspices of President of the Association, Mr. Shoaib Shaheen.

Pakistan’s courts are overburdened and clogged with a caseload that is humanly impossible for the current judiciary to manage. The whole society ranging from litigants to lawyers to judicial officers suffer in silence; in the hope for an external savior in the form of better human, technical and financial resources but no concrete answer to how the issues of frivolous and unnecessary litigation would be resolved in the long run. In the midst of this crisis, various countries across the world have adopted ADR as the way forward for settlement of disputes and, successfully so, have seen this develop as a parallel regime to the traditional court system. Pakistan, it was argued at the conference, needs to take a similar approach of developing a functional parallel system to that of the courts for litigants to obtain relief, lawyers to expand their expertise beyond the role that is played at the bar, and judicial officers to facilitate out of court settlement for the benefit of society as a whole.

Honorable Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, Mr. CJ Athar Minallah presided the event as Chief Guest, while Honorable Mr. Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Honorable Mr. Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan of the Islamabad High Court,and the Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar amongst other local and foreign experts, and former justices of various high courts in Pakistan also graced the event.

The Honorable Chief Justice emphasized that the backlog of cases and overburdened courts in Pakistan necessitated intervention through adopting ADR. He emphasized that the judicial system was suffering heavily owing to neglect towards adopting ADR as per the present legal system and that the courts must play a vital role in guiding the parties towards adopting the various ADR mechanisms for their dispute resolution. He concluded with calling on everyone to join hands with the Islamabad High Court in furthering this initiative towards encouraging and facilitating ADR.

The honorable Mr. Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb of the Islamabad High Court also spoke about the need for taking ADR initiatives and his contributions in the field. He emphasized the necessity of lawyers’ being at the forefront of leading the initiative for supporting ADR in Pakistan. The honorable Mr. Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan of the Islamabad High Court further delved into a judges’ perspective on how there was no question about the fact that ADR was, in fact, the way forward for the legal system in Pakistan.

The Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar, also graced the event and said that the government was committed to introducing speedy justice at the doorstep. Dr. Shoaib Suddle of Safer Communities, an organization committed to improvements in the justice sector, and Ehsan Sadiq, Additional Inspector General of Police, emphasized the role of ADR in criminal matters. They mentioned that some pilots in Pakistan had already demonstrated how ADR can be used to settle disputes expeditiously at the police station level and at little cost to the parties.

Barrister Farrukh Qureshi, the Managing Director of ICADRP, explained how a silent revolution had taken place in many countries around the world so that most disputes were settled out of court. He said that ADR held a lot of promise for solving problems faced by litigants in Pakistani courts. He hoped that ICADRP can play an important role in this respect. Dr. Nudrat Piracha, CEO of ICADRP also discussed how the intense backlog of cases in Pakistan created a grave need for adopting ADR mechanisms for the country.

Several foreign experts also addressed the conference including Judge Charles N. Brower, a former judge of the International Court of Justice and the Iran-US Claims Tribunal. Meg Kinnear, the Secretary-General ICSID, and Judge (retd.) Daniel Weinstein, founder of the Judicial Arbitration Mediation Systems (JAMS) and Howard A. Hermans of JAMS also graced conference with their presence. The international speakers on the sessions for the second day were Mr. Constantin Adi Gavrila, CEO, and founder of ADR Center Italy, Dr. Professor Nuray Eksi, an expert on ADR based in Turkey, and Ms. Ferda Paksoy, founder of AdrIstanbul, Turkey. Honorable Justice Rebecca Westrefield, JAMS Mediator and Arbitrator, Mr. Colin Rule, President and CEO of Mediate.com, Co-founder of Modria.com, an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform, and Mr. Vic Schachter, President of Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives.

Syed Qamar Hussain Sabzwari also spoke on the importance of ADR followed by closing remarks by Justice Ejaz Ishaq Khan. The conference was concluded with distribution of shields to the honored guests and a note of gratitude to the participants for gracing the event.

The conference ended on the note that the International Centre for Appropriate Dispute Resolution and Prevention (ICADRP), under the able leadership of Dr Nudrat Piracha, will accelerate its efforts to propagate the importance of ADR in Pakistan in order to facilitate expeditious dispensation of justice in Pakistan, and that the Islamabad High Court and Islamabad Bar Association would walk hand in hand with ICADRP in its efforts.