Accredited Mediators, known as “Tufuga o Faatofalaiga” or facilitators of negotiation, recently held their annual general meeting.
They have elected a new Executive, comprising of President, Tai’i Leiataualesa Jerry Brunt, Vice President, Toleafoa Mara Hunter, Secretary, Margaret Fruean, Treasurer, Papali’i Sonja Hunter, and Members, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale, Sifuiva Maureen Tuimalealiifano and Maiava Aiolupotea Visekota Peteru.
The Alternative Disputes Resolution Act 2007, as amended in 2013, formally established mediation as a crucial method of dispute resolution in Samoa.
The success of mediation is reflected in the high 75 to 80 percent success rate of dispute settlement, which has been consistently achieved since the inception of mediation in 2013.
“AMSA (Accredited Mediators of Samoa Association) continues to cooperate closely with the Court Annexed Mediation Unit of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, to ensure that all civil cases referred for mediation are mediated within a 40 day period,” said President Tai’i.
“This is a unique partnership between an NGO successfully collaborating with a ministry of government, to achieve excellent outcomes for both government and the public at large.
“AMSA’s success translates in to the reduction of civil matters proceeding to court hearings, reduced waiting time, and reduced legal expenses for the parties involved.
“Taxpayers expenditure on court costs and business costs expended on court proceedings are significantly reduced and the relationships of the parties are often restored. These factors also contribute to a stable and peaceful Samoa. Simultaneously, lawyers have more time to devote to other legal matters.”
Successful mediation of disputes means that the parties have been able to discuss their issues confidentially and mediate a settlement by signing a confidential agreement which is referred to the court for confirmation.
The settlement agreement is then endorsed by the court and has the same standing as an order of the court.
Mediation is uniquely suited to the Samoan way of life and “fa’a Samoa” tradition of consensus and peace-making through expression of “tofaā” and through “fesilafaiga”. These terms refer to wisdom and meeting face to face to resolve disputes.
AMSA is seeking individuals interested in becoming accredited mediators, especially those who have the temperament to listen and impartially facilitate two parties in dispute.
The candidates will be trained and accredited to an international level in the facilitative model of mediation. The training will be conducted in December 2017 for 24 candidates to add to AMSA numbers.
A mediation centre for Samoa is also in the pipeline and AMSA will seek regional assistance to realise this dream of being a regional and international centre for mediation and other types of dispute resolution.
“We are excited about the future of mediation in Samoa and are planning national public awareness strategies for the whole of Samoa,” said Tai’i.
“We also note that private pre-litigation mediation is increasingly popular, where parties use private mediation to avoid initiating proceedings in court. AMSA encourages the public to contact any of its Executive members to arrange private mediations.”
A list of current financial members is published in today’s Samoa Observer.