Author: Shahla F. Ali
Courts throughout the world face the challenge of designing court mediation programs to provide opportunities for party-directed reconciliation on the one hand, while ensuring access to formal legal channels on the other. In some jurisdictions, mandated programs require initial attempts at mediation, while in others, voluntary programs encourage party-selected participation. This Article explores the attitudes and perceptions of eighty-three practitioners implementing court mediation programs in five regions in order to understand the dynamics, challenges, and lessons learned from the perspectives of those directly engaged in the work of administering, representing, and mediating civil claims. Given the highly contextual nature of court mediation programs, this Article highlights achievements, challenges, and lessons learned in the implementation of mediation programs for general civil claims. The principal findings indicate that overall, from the perspective of the court mediation practitioners surveyed, practitioners report slightly higher levels of confidence in mandatory mediation programs, higher perceptions of efficiency with respect to voluntary programs, and regard voluntary and mandatory mediation programs with relatively equal perceptions of fairness. Program achievements largely depend on the functioning of the civil litigation system, the qualities and skill of the mediators, safeguards against bias, participant education, and cultural and institutional support.