ISLAMABAD: The Musaliha International Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution (MICADR) and the Legal Aid Society (LAS) in collaboration with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has successfully concluded Pakistan’s first National Conference; “Dispute Resolution through Mediation: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Opportunities for the Industry” at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad.
MICADR was established by the LAS, an organization founded by Justice R Nasir Aslam Zahid. LAS is working in the heart of the rule of Pakistan’s rule of law sector providing direct legal assistance to vulnerable individuals and technical support to key civil and criminal justice system actors.
Mediation is a cost and time-effective, flexible and confidential process where a trained and accredited Mediator facilitates dialogue and conversations between two or more disputing parties, ultimately guiding them towards a settlement which is mutually beneficial. For the corporate sector looking for cost and time effective, confidential means of dispute resolution that sustain business relations, mediation has proven to be the most successful mechanism globally.
The conference aimed to promote mediation as a premier means of dispute resolution in Pakistan. With mediation now legally recognized and enforceable in Pakistan through provincial ADR laws in Sindh (2019), ICT (2017), Punjab (2020), Balochistan (2022) and KP (2020), it offers a confidential, flexible, and private mechanism of dispute resolution that is cost and time-effective. Moreover, settlement agreements mutually agreed upon by disputing parties can, under respective provincial ADR laws, be submitted in civil courts to become Rule of Courts. As ADR gains traction locally, foreign investors actively seek to invest in countries that have robust ADR systems.
The conference communicated how MICADR offers state-of-the-art mediation, arbitration and negotiation services for organizations, corporate entities, and regulatory bodies. The conference noted that mediation at MICADR is facilitated by nationally and internationally accredited civil and commercial mediators as well as notable Supreme Court judges with several years of experience in multiple thematic areas.
Barrister Haya Emaan Zahid, CEO of Legal Aid Society and Member of Board of Governors at MICADR opened the conference by highlighting the need for mediation to provide expedient and expeditious justice to the people of Pakistan. Haya Zahid said that institutionalization of ADR is as critical for Pakistan as investing in interventions to reverse climate change.
Retired Supreme court Judge Justice Arif Hussain Khilji stated that the purpose of the conference was to provide a platform for members of the ADR community of Islamabad to come together and discuss how mediation can transform the dispute resolution landscape in Pakistan.
Suleman Chawla, Vice President of FPCCI, stated, “The recent establishment of an Accreditation Committee in Islamabad to recognize and accredit ADR Centers and Mediators, and the fact that the composition includes a representation from the FPCCI, is a step in the very right direction. We are grateful to these critical stakeholders for prioritizing this workable solution.”
Zubair Motiwala, Chairman of the Trade and Development Authority of Pakistan, supported the need to institutionalize mediation as per international standards and spoke about the kind of issues being faced by Pakistan’s industry and particularly highlighted the need for mediation pertaining to cases lodged by foreign buyers of Pakistani goods, and with the relevant Government authorities regarding the delay of release containers being held at Pakistan’s port.
Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Judge of the Islamabad High Court and also a CEDR Accreditor International Mediator, particularly emphasized on the need for regulatory bodies such as FBR to change their bylaws regarding ADR to incorporate the formal mediation process as a dispute resolution mechanism. He gave examples from jurisdictions around the world such as the UK where this has successfully been piloted.
The conference was attended by the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on revenue Tariq Pasha, Former Supreme Court and High Court judges such as Justice Ather Saeed, Justice Mushir Alam, the Federal Tax Ombudsperson, Presidents of Faisalabad and Rawalpindi Chambers of Commerce and representations from Attock Group of Companies, major telcos, development sector organizations and the Special Technology Zones Authority.
The conference ended with distribution of MICADR membership certificates to newly Internationally Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediators from within Islamabad’s legal fraternity who are now licensed to practice mediation across 150 jurisdictions around the world.
The conference was a resounding success, and its participants left with a renewed commitment to promoting mediation as a means of dispute resolution in Pakistan. With the increasing recognition of ADR in the country and the tireless efforts of organizations such as Musaliha International Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution (MICADR), the future looks bright for mediation in Pakistan as a means of dispute resolution.