The Barbados Advocate

Visiting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) systems design specialist Allan Stitt showed local departmental heads yesterday, that while some persons view conflict in a negative light, there are actually quite a few benefits that can be identified.

These observations were made when participants from various governmental organizations, got a first hand look at an alternative to dispute resolutions at a four-day seminar being held at the Amaryllis Beach Resort.

The seminar, an initiative of the Justice Improvement Secretariat, provoked department heads to cite possible causes of conflict, which in one example included potential conflicts between the employer and employee stemming from a number of reasons namely, miscommunication, abuse of power and discrimination, to name a few. He then went on to show participants the barriers to resolution, problems with litigation and proceeded to show them a video on mediation.

Stitt, who strongly advocated mediation as an alternative means of settling disputes, told participants that out of conflict, parties could then open the window for communication; it is the forum for getting out the issues and it is a major step towards change and development. He challenged that in a society where there is no conflict, it would remain without change and would essentially remain stagnant.

A Chartered mediator for over 11 years, Stitt also told participants, including representatives from Her Majesty’s Prison and the Royal Barbados Police Force, that process of mediation versus litigation would significantly reduce time and money spent in the court, by identifying the underlying needs of both parties, while seeking the maximum mutual benefit.

He showed that creating an environment without fear, without prejudice and setting out a few simple guidelines could lead to an amicable solution, where there is no clear cut winner or loser.

The special lecturer at the University of Windsor said that basically any one could be a mediator.

“There is no rule about who should be a mediator. There is no governing body to say you should or should not be a mediator. A number of lawyers are mediators, some business people, educators,” he said.

He noted however, that persons who have the personality to help persons work through disputes and are capable of negotiating are normally considered to be the best mediators.