๐Ÿ‘‰ Mediation is increasingly being included as a dispute-resolution mechanism in newer legislations in India owing to its unique advantage of the greater possibility of preserving the relationship between disputing parties and faster remedy. Below given is the selection of Acts that included mediation as the dispute resolution.

1. Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Section 37 of this Act prescribes that at the first hearing of a complaint after its admission, or at any later stage if it appears to the District Commission that there exist elements of a settlement that may be acceptable to the parties, it may refer the matter to mediation except in such cases as may be prescribed. Chapter V of the Act provides detailed provisions pertaining to the mediation of consumer disputes.

2. Companies Act, 2013,

๐Ÿ‘‰ Section 442 provides for a Mediation and Conciliation Panel to be maintained by the Central Government for mediating proceedings before the Central Government or National Company Law Tribunal (โ€˜NCLTโ€™) or National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (โ€˜NCLATโ€™). This provision allows any of the parties to the proceedings to opt for mediation. The Central government, the NCLT or the NCLAT may also refer a matter pending before it for mediation suo motu.

3. Commercial Courts Act, 2015

๐Ÿ‘‰ An example of an attempt to introduce mandatory mediation in the Indian context is the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, which was amended in 2018 to provide for pre-institution mediation and settlement. Section 12A of this Act makes it mandatory for the disputing parties to attempt mediation before initiating a suit. The only exception provided in the law is if there is a requirement of urgent relief from the court.

๐Ÿ‘‰ The settlement agreement arrived at by the parties shall have the same legal force as an arbitral award mentioned under Section 30 of arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. However, despite this provision having been in force for over two years, no data is readily available on its implementation.

๐Ÿ‘‰ As often misunderstood, โ€˜mandatory mediationโ€™ does not mean mandating parties to settle their disputes through mediation. It simply means mandating parties to attempt mediation. It has been described as โ€˜coercion into and not within the process of mediation.

Post notes- Some may argue that mandatory mediation denigrates the process to such an extent that it would lose most of its advantages. There is a concern that mandating mediation and taking away voluntary decision-making from the parties is tantamount to a denial of access to justice . There is no denying that voluntariness is a major characteristic of mediation. However, it is an exaggeration to argue that mandating parties to simply attempt mediation would mean that mediation no longer remains voluntary.

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