Government officials emphasise creating faster access to justice through Alternative Dispute Resolution methods

A webinar was held on virtual platform on 5 December 2020 on ‘ADR Can Create Faster Access to Justice’ was jointly organised by Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre (BIAC) and Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division (LPAD) of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Bangladesh.

Participating in the webinar experts, mostly from the Government sector stressed the need of lessening the burden of our judiciary from the huge backlog of cases, which is already overloaded with nearly 3.8 million case dockets. Speakers also suggested expansion of the role of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), especially in view of availability of only one judge for around 2,000 pending cases.

Speaking at the webinar as a Panellist Speaker Md. Sirazul Islam, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) stressed on the need of institutional ADR for expeditious disposal of commercial disputes. He pointed out a few limitations of the Arbitration Act 2001 and said that the purpose of the existing law to save time and money in arbitration proceedings is yet to be achieved. He also opined that instead of civil courts there should be a separate authority to execute arbitral awards.

Secretary, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division (LPAD) Md. Moinul Kabir in his Welcome Address said that the Government’s initiatives for inserting provisions of ADR in different legislations of Bangladesh have created a vast opportunity of access to justice for all. Invariably, ADR has a very significant role towards the enhancement of access to justice avoiding all kinds of procedural and other complexities, the Secretary maintained.

In his Closing Address Chairman of the BIAC Board Mahbubur Rahman said that BIAC, as the only licenced ADR centre of Bangladesh, has arbitration, mediation and other methods of ADR in their agenda. He stressed on ‘Ensuring Access to Justice for All’ as a target to be achieved nationally under the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ set by the United Nations General Assembly. Mahbub opined that justice seekers tussle with some economic, social and institutional barriers in accessing formal judicial system. He emphasised extensive practice of ADR which can create faster access to justice integrating its methods including arbitration and mediation with the existing judicial system.

An expert Panel of Speakers comprising high Government officials and representative from the legal fraternity addressed issues and impacts of the challenges of access to justice and ADR’s role to accelerate judicial process in the country. Government and corporate officials, lawyers, academicians, ADR experts, bankers and business leaders of high eminence participated in the largely attended webinar through Zoom transmission.

M A Akmall Hossain Azad, Director, BIAC moderated the webinar. In course of discussion he opined that for improving access to justice, awareness building regarding ADR is imperative. Azad also insisted on accountability for lawyers and improved case management at courts.

Fowzul Azim, Chief Research Officer, Law Commission Bangladesh took part in the discussion as a Panellist and underscored the need of court based ADR for faster access to justice. He opined in favour of change in attitude of the stakeholders. Taking part in the discussion Kazi Arifuzzaman, Joint Secretary, LPAD gave an insight on existing civil court procedures which cause delay and incur much cost in settling disputes. He categorised that in the present context ADR is the only way to overcome such situation.

Barrister Saqeb Mahbub, Partner, Mahbub & Company viewed the issue from a lawyer’s perspective and opined that both ADR and access to justice have similar aims. He opined that ADR can bring adversaries closer and make a quicker exit compared to the court proceedings. Taking part in the deliberations Most. Jannatul Ferdoush, Deputy Secretary, LPAD maintained that rule of law and access to justice are the need of the hour for stability and sustainability in the judicial infrastructure of the country.

Speaking on the occasion Md. Asaduzzaman Nur, Deputy Secretary, LPAD gave an account of ADR provisions in different financial laws and argued in favour of using ADR norms to resolve business disputes. G M Atiqur Rahman Zamaly, Deputy Secretary, LPAD in his deliberations focussed on provisions of international arbitration through institutions like UNCITRAL, ICC and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He said that BIAC is an outstanding example of successfully dealing with international arbitration in the region. Speaking at the webinar Mohammad Abdul Halim, Deputy Secretary, LPAD narrated recent ADR provisions incorporated in a number of laws and insisted on overcoming procedural limitations for quick dispensation of justice.

CEO of BIAC Muhammad A. (Rumee) Ali also attended the webinar. The event was live streamed on BIAC’s FACEBOOK page and LinkedIn. The daily Bonik Barta was the media partner of the webinar.