Eight Sri Lankan business conglomerates have signed agreements to pursue commercial mediation to settle disputes as opposed to always using litigation, a move that will help make the Sri Lankan judicial system more efficient and effective by reducing case backlogs.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) assisted with development of a memorandum of understanding the eight companies individually signed on Tuesday, July 18, with USAID’s Effective and Efficient Justice (EEJ) activity. The agreements enable the companies to receive commercial mediation training, exposure to international-standard mediation and commercial mediation services and encourages the companies to incorporate a mediation clause into their corporate contracts.

Commercial mediation is a viable alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism that also will help promote investments and commercial development in Sri Lanka.

Nations Trust Bank PLC, Tudawe Brothers (Pvt) Ltd., AKK Engineering, Nawaloka Constructions, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company, Maga Engineering (Pvt) Ltd., Ranasinha Constructions, and MAC Holdings signed their agreements at a ceremony held at Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo.

The partnerships are part of the commercial mediation pilot program launched by USAID under its EEJ activity. The activity provides training in commercial mediation and other ADR methods for these companies through workshops facilitated by international mediation experts. To improve ADR services in Sri Lanka, the project also trains ADR centers in mediation center management and administration.

“By helping adopt international best practices in case management and court management, and also by improving legal education and promoting and facilitating the use of ADR mechanisms, we hope to see reduced case delays and court backlogs, and promote the principles of people-centered justice,” said Ali Ezzatyar, USAID Acting Mission Director. “We believe that a strong justice system not only ensures the rule of law, but provides easy access.”

Since 2021, USAID’s Efficient and Effective Justice activity has been helping to equip the justice sector with international best practices, systems, and tools.