NEW DELHI: A draft bill to create a standalone law on mediation has proposed pre-litigation mediation while safeguarding the interest of the litigants to approach competent forums if they need urgent relief.
The draft released by the Centre on Friday for public consultation also proposes the establishment of an umbrella body called the Mediation Council of India.
Mediation is an alternate dispute redressal mechanism that offers an informal, simple, non-adversarial approach to settle matters.
“Since the laws on mediation are contained in several enactments, including Rules and Regulation, it was felt necessary to ascertain the present statutory framework on mediation and bring an umbrella legislation including amendments in the existing laws,” a statement by the ministry of law and justice stated.
Besides, India is a signatory to the Singapore Convention on Mediation, so enacting a law domestic and international mediation became necessary.
In accordance with global practices, the terms ‘conciliation’ and ‘mediation’ have been used interchangeably in the draft. The draft bill aims to promote, encourage and facilitate mediation, especially institutional mediation.
It is meant to help resolve commercial disputes, enforce domestic and international mediation settlements. It provides for a body for registration of mediators.
The draft encourages community mediation and aims to make online mediation an acceptable and cost effective process.
The draft promises to protect the confidentiality of the mediation undertaken and provides for immunity in certain cases against its disclosure.
It provides for registration of the Mediation Settlement Agreement with legal authorities within 90 days to ensure maintenance of records of the settlement.
Settlement agreement to be enforceable by law
The draft bill makes a Mediation Settlement Agreement (MSA) enforceable by law.
Since MSA is a product of consensual agreement, any challenge to it would permitted only on limited grounds, the draft states