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    Feb 15, 2016

    Fewer cases of mediation after start of new tribunals

    THE number of cases handled by the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) has fallen after the new community tribunals opened in October last year.

    According to Ministry of Law data, the centre mediated 99 cases from October to December last year, a drop from 128 over the same period in 2014 and 118 cases in 2013.

    Observers say residents, frustrated at recalcitrant neighbours, may have taken their cases straight to the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals (CDRT) for legal recourse.

    But a spokesman for the State Courts, which the CDRT comes under, noted that the tribunals do not conduct mediation like the CMC.

    Set up in 1998, the CMC allows residents here to resolve relational, community and social disputes amicably without litigation.

    Trained volunteer mediators conduct the mediations but attendance is voluntary.

    For the 440 cases mediated by the CMC last year, neighbour disputes made up 72 per cent.

    They included cases ordered for mediation by the CDRT.

    Said the State Courts spokesman: "In cases where parties have already gone for mediation at the CMC before filing a claim in the CDRT, the CDRT may still order them to go for mediation if it's of the view that it would be in the best interest of both parties to do so."

    Those who fail to comply with the order to attend mediation commit contempt of court and face jail or a fine.

    While the CDRT can make court orders, some aspects of the proceedings differ from those of a normal court. For example, lawyers are not allowed to represent the parties except in special cases.

    Costs at the tribunals are lower than those at other courts. The total cost at the CDRT is estimated to be $200, compared with $510 at a District Court.