A Brief Overview On Dispute Resolution Fora Commonly Used In Sri Lanka

A Brief Overview On Dispute Resolution Fora Commonly Used In Sri Lanka

Article 4 (c ) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka states that the judicial power of the people shall be exercised by Parliament through courts, tribunals, and institutions created and established, or recognized, by the Constitution, or created and established by law.

The court system consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, and such other Courts of First Instance, Tribunals which are the institutions for the administration of justice which protect, vindicate and enforce the rights of the People. (Article 105)

  1. Dispute resolution through Court

    Dispute resolution through the court system is exercised in civil and criminal jurisdictions.

    The Court system is headed by the Supreme Court, the final and apex court of appeal. Appeals from the High Court and lower courts come before the Court of Appeal.
    (Chapter – XVI)

    The High Court established under Article 154P of the Constitution and Magistrate courts exercise criminal jurisdiction, and the District Court and Commercial High Court exercise jurisdiction in civil matters.

    Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president and others by the Judicial Service Commission.

  2. Quasi-Judicial systems

    Quasi – Judicial Tribunals (e.g.: Quazis and Boards of Quazis, Agricultural Tribunals, Courts Labour Tribunals, etc.) perform functions of quasi-judicial nature. The decisions of quasi-judicial tribunals are accepted as binding decisions but are capable of revision by the Appellate Courts by way of writs or appeals.

  3. Alternate Dispute Resolution Methods

    Alternate Dispute Resolution Methods (“ADR”) refer to different ways people can resolve disputes without resorting to litigation. A brief description on the commonly used ADR methods in Sri Lanka is stated as follows;

    1. 3.1) Mediation

      Mediation is an ADR method that attempts to bring a peaceful settlement between disputants through the intervention of a neutral third party (“Mediator”).

      The Mediation Board Act, No.17 of 1988 as amended (“The MB Act”) is the act that provides for the legal framework for institutionalizing of mediation boards. Mediation boards have the power to resolve disputes through the process of mediation and disputes are referred to it either by disputing parties or court.

      Mediation (Special Categories of Disputes) Act, No. 21 of 2003 was enacted in regard to the settlement through mediation of such categories of disputes as shall be determined by the Minister.

    2. 3.2) Conciliation

      Conciliation is a voluntary proceeding, where the parties involved are free to agree and attempt to resolve their dispute by conciliation. Therefore, the parties can either accept or reject the recommended solutions.

      Mediation and conciliation are different ADR method since in conciliation, the conciliator will be asked by the disputants to provide them with a non-binding settlement proposal and the mediator will not do this.

    3. 3.3) Arbitration

      Arbitration is a method of dispute resolution by referring a dispute to a neutral party (“An Arbitrator”) for a binding decision, or Award, which is enforceable in Court.

      The conduct of arbitration proceedings in Sri Lanka is governed by the Arbitration Act No. 11 of 1995 (the “AA Act”). An Arbitration agreement may be in the form of an arbitration clause in a contract or in the form of a separate agreement. (Sec 3 of the AA Act) Therefore it is evident that the consent of both parties is a pre- requisite to commence arbitral proceedings.

      When an arbitration award is made, a party within 1 year after the expiry of 14 days, of arbitral award being made, may apply to the High Court for the enforcement of the award. Where no application is made for setting aside the arbitration awards, and the court is of the view that there is no reason to refuse the award, the court shall give the judgment accordingly.

      Arbitration is a commonly used method in commercial disputes.

      The Arbitration Act states that a foreign arbitral award irrespective of the country to which it was made, shall be recognized as binding and, upon application by a party to the High Court, be enforced by filing the award with the High Court in accordance with the provisions of the Arbitration Act.