The Ministry of Justice’s working group on its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism is racing to disseminate concept notes about it to all relevant stakeholders, as it expects the process to be finalised and approved for use this year.

Ministry spokesman Chin Malin – also head of the working group – told The Post on April 18 that the concept notes will be widely shared following the Khmer New year celebrations. The notes provide a “compass” of the ADR mechanism, he said.

The notes will be printed in both Khmer and English to improve people’s awareness and understanding of the new processes, with the support of the EU.

“After these notes are finalised, we will launch the National ADR Policy. In order to activate the policy, several other mechanisms which will provide the operational capacity needed to put it into action will be undertaken,” he said.

He said operational requirements included human resource preparation, funding, mediator selection and acceptance, evaluation and review methodologies and the finalisation of some legal questions.

“All of these are stated in the National ADR Policy. After this national policy is approved and put into use, we will then prepare the operational requirements and procedures,” he said.

The policy will be launched this year, but operational procedures may come later or early next year, he added.

According to the concept notes, Cambodia already employs many out-of-court dispute resolution mechanisms including land dispute resolution by the Cadastral Commission through conciliation and mediation; labour and commercial dispute resolution by the Labor and Commercial Arbitration Council through arbitration and settlement; and local disputes resolution by Legal and Local conflict mediation district offices.

However, dispute resolution through mediation – and the number of trained mediators – remains limited. Although the justice ministry has trained a number of civil servants to fulfill the role, there are not enough to meet demand.

In addition, some mediators – trained locally, by private institutions, or abroad – are not yet accredited by the ministry, as Cambodia does not yet have a legal framework in place or any national institution which can provide comprehensive training, the concept notes said.

Malin said establishing an ADR mechanism is one of the ministry’s top priorities, in line with its goal of achieving local harmonisation.

The mechanism will enable two sides involved in a dispute to face each other, find a compromise and solve their dispute without the need to take the case to court.