The Project on Dispute Resolution and Development, or “ProDRD,” is a global forum for the promotion of research, training, legislation and policy-making and other reform initiatives relating to dispute resolution in the Global South. Drawing from an international base of academics, practitioners, government officials and nongovernmental organizations, it brings together world-class experts in courts and judicial procedure, alternative dispute resolution law and policy, public and private international law and development studies.
Our mission is to help countries reach their development goals through dispute resolution reform, broadly conceived to include both courts and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes. We have assisted numerous government bodies, NGOs, academic institutions and private parties through the provision of training, advice on legislation and rule-making, and assistance in the design and implementation of dispute resolution programs.
At ProDRD we believe that effective dispute resolution is a key component of any nation’s development. In our view, a dispute resolution process is effective if it has at least three components:
- Legitimacy. In order for a disputing process to be legitimate, it must be widely perceived as fair, appropriate for the cultural, jurisdictional, or other context in which it is being used and free of corruption, bias or capture by partisan interests.
- Access to Justice. Although justice is a difficult concept to define, there must be some confidence that the chosen process produces results that are fair and equitable, not based on arbitrary factors such as wealth or status. Although cost and time savings are sometimes perceived as in tension with procedural or substantive justice, we regard them to be important aspects of meaningful access to justice. After all, “justice delayed is justice denied.”
- Sustainability. Dispute resolution reform efforts in the developing world often fail because too little attention is paid to ensuring their long term self-sufficiency. At ProDRD we take care to think beyond our particular mandate—whether it be a short training course or helping to establish a court-connected mediation program—to consider how our work can have a lasting and meaningful impact.
Our first commitment is to promote the uptake of dispute resolution processes that are centered on these values of legitimacy, access to justice and sustainability. Our second commitment is to fulfill the development-related goals and needs of our clients.
We are a non-profit organization and often work on a pro bono basis.
Professor Hiro N. Aragaki, Loyola Law School
Professor Aragaki (FCIarb) is Professor of Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where he teaches and writes in the areas of negotiation, mediation, arbitration, contract law and civil procedure. Prior to joining Loyola, Professor Aragaki taught at Fordham Business School in New York and practiced law for ten years at international law firms. In addition to his academic work, he has served as an arbitrator and mediator since 2001, trained judges and lawyers in ADR both nationally and internationally and provided dispute systems design and court reform advice in Bangladesh, Ghana, India and Liberia. He is frequently called upon to speak on a wide variety of legal and policy topics, including comparative mediation law and ethics, confidentiality, certification, dispute systems design,and effective case management. He holds degrees from Stanford Law School, Cambridge University and Yale University and is admitted to the bars of California, the District of Columbia, New York and England & Wales.
Mr. Victor Schachter, President, Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives
Vic Schachter is the founder and president of FSRI, an NGO dedicated to establishing sustainable mediation centers globally to achieve timely, fair and peaceful conflict resolution in developing countries with backlogged court systems. Its goal is to enhance meaningful access to justice for underserved populations in emerging democracies. Mr. Schachter has served extensively as a mediator and as an advocate representing clients in numerous mediations and arbitrations over his fifty year career. In addition, he has led and participated in rule of law and related educational initiatives promoting judicial reform, alternative dispute resolution and judicial case management in India, Brazil, Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia and Malaysia, among other countries. Mr. Schachter has been recognized as a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year for his service in judicial reform, rule of law and mediation building. His work has been reported and cited in numerous publications. Previously he was a litigation partner at Fenwick & West LLP in Silicon Valley, California for 17 years, where he was Chair of its Employment Practices Group.
The Hon. Robert Levy, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Judge Levy has been a federal magistrate judge in New York for nearly 20 years. Since 2000, he has also been the director of ADR programs for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In this capacity, he helps design, implement and administer ADR programs for a district of over 5 million persons. He has drafted and implemented ADR program rules, screened and approved arbitrators and mediators and conducted program evaluations and ongoing monitoring.
In 2009, Judge Levy was appointed by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to serve as a member of the Federal Judicial Center’s Education Committee, which is responsible for providing orientation, training and continuing education to new federal magistrate judges. Subjects covered include mediation techniques and the design of court-annexed ADR programs.
Judge Levy has significant experience providing ADR system design advice to courts and private ADR organizations in the U.S. and abroad. He has been invited to offer trainings and consulting services relating to both law and ADR reform, including the establishment of pilot ADR programs, in countries such as Bulgaria and Russia. In 2009, he taught ADR program design and mediation skills to judges from around the world at Pepperdine Law School in California.
Ms. Caroline Etuk, Director, Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse
Since 2008, Ms. Caroline Etuk has been the Director of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, the first court-annexed ADR program in Africa. In this capacity, she develops the Centre’s strategy, designs and implements ADR trainings and promotional activities in both the commercial and non-commercial sectors, engages in coaching and assessments of mediators for accreditation and initiates special ADR projects like the Lagos Settlement Week and the Commercial Intervention Strategy Programme.
Ms. Etuk has been in the vanguard of efforts to streamline ADR into the Justice Sector through the amendment of court rules and other legislation, such as the Tenancy Law of Lagos State 2011 and the Magistracy Law 2009 (both of which have incorporated referrals of disputes to the LMDC for resolution), as well as the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2012, which introduced the screening of civil cases and the ADR Track. She is also frequently called upon by the British Council to conduct needs assessments and Mediation Skills Training programs for other Nigerian court-annexed and other mediation programs.
Diana Dapaa, Associate, Sam Okudzeto & Associates and Lecturer in ADR
Ms. Diana Dapaah both practices and teaches ADR and allied disciplines, such as civil litigation and commercial/contract law, in Accra, Ghana. She served as a law clerk to Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, the Chief Justice of the Ghana Supreme Court, who is also a key proponent of ADR in Ghana. Her close relationship with the Chief Justice has enabled her to forge important connections in the Ghanaian legal community, in particular with Mr. Nene Amegatcher, the President of the Ghana Bar Association, with whom she works at Sam Okudzeto & Associates. Ms. Dapaah’s dedication to ADR led her to pursue an LLM at Fordham Law School, where she served as a research assistant to Professor John Feerick. Through her association with Professor Feerick and the Conflict Resolution & ADR Program at Fordham, she became involved in setting up the Marian Conflict Resolution Centre, a private ADR provider institution. She developed the Centre’s mediation training manual and has trained judges, lawyers and members of the public in ADR skills at the Centre every year since 2011.
ProDRD joins FSRI delegation to Bangalore
In February 2016, ProDRD was invited by the Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives (FSRI) to travel to Bangalore to help promote awareness of mediation in law and business schools and provide mediation coaching to private mediators affiliated with the Centre for Advanced Mediation Practice (CAMP)[hyperlink]. The delegation consisted of Professor Aragaki (ProDRD), Mr. Victor Schachter (President of FSRI), the Hon. Rebecca Westerfield (JAMS) and Prof. Jay Folberg (JAMS).
Professor Aragaki spoke about negotiation, mediation, dispute systems design and emerging trends in ADR at several programs including:
- A Private Commercial Mediation Conclave sponsored by CAMP, the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Vahura and others.
- “A Conceptual Approach to ADR” at Christ’s University Faculty of Law
- “Negotiation & Beyond” at Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship
In addition, the delegation gave presentations to panel mediators at the Bangalore Mediation Centre, the first court-connected mediation center in Bangalore. It also provided advice on mediation law to a legal team based in Bangalore and Chennai that was embarking on a project to draft a national mediation bill for possible introduction in Parliament.
Prof. Aragaki offers new course at LLS to help Indian legal team draft a national mediation bill
During the summer of 2016, Prof. Aragaki provided further comments and advice on the bill. In Fall 2016, he offered a course entitled, “Drafting a New Mediation Law For India [hyperlink to LLS story on this],” intended as a collaboration between ProDRD and the Indian legal team. Seven Loyola Law students had the unique opportunity to interact via Skype with lawyers and judges based in India, draft research memos on how other jurisdictions around the world have dealt with key mediation law issues such as confidentiality and enforcement, and draft their own model mediation bill for India. Although the bill has not yet been introduced in Parliament and its fate remains uncertain at this time, ProDRD hopes to continue providing advice as things develop.
ProDRD responds to solicitation for comments on Gov’t of India Working Paper on Institutional Arbitration Reforms
The Government of India recently constituted a High Level Committee (HLC) headed by Justice Srikrishna to study potential reforms to institutional arbitration in India. The Srikrishna Committee published a Working Paper on Institutional Arbitration Reforms in India that also solicited comments from the public on questions such as:
- What measures should be pursued to reform the arbitration and ADR culture in India to ensure timely and efficient private dispute resolution?
- What legislative changes need to be made, either to the Arbitration & Conciliation Act 1996 or otherwise, in order to encourage the development of India as a seat for international arbitration and keep pace with international arbitration law and practice?
In response to the Working Paper, Professor Aragaki submitted a comment letter [hyperlink to the letter] arguing, inter alia, that real progress in arbitration reform requires also taking a hard look at the reform of related ADR processes such as mediation. “[I]f India wishes to establish itself as a global arbitration centre, it would do well to begin thinking of arbitration reform not in isolation from mediation reform but rather in conjunction with it,” he said.
[can we add a separate tab under the India section called PUBLICATIONS? Under the Publications tab I would like to include: 1) the letter referred to above; 2) a book chapter I recently wrote on arbitration reform in India.]
ProDRD invited to provide mediation training and systems design advice
In 2011, Professors Aragaki and Culbert were invited by the South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS) and the Judicial Administration and Training Institute (JATI) to provide a 32-hour mediation training workshop for judges, advocates, community leaders and academics in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In addition to the workshop, Professors Aragaki and Culbert spoke at law schools throughout the capital to spread awareness about mediation and demonstrate how ADR skills are taught in U.S. Law Schools. They also participated in high level seminars attended by the Chief Justice and the Attorney General of Bangladesh covering topics such as how to promote the use of ADR in Bangladesh, how to design a court-connected ADR program and the U.S. experience with ADR.
Collaboration with Judge Mohammed Halim
Over the past several years ProDRD has remained in contact with several trainees from the 2011 workshop. In 2015, one former trainee, Additional District Judge Mohammed Abdul Halim, was awarded a prestigious Weinstein JAMS International Fellowship to pursue an LLM degree at Loyola Law School under Professor Aragaki’s supervision. Judge Halim wrote his LLM thesis on the importance of taking a holistic approach to mediation and judicial reform in Bangladesh. You can read more about Judge Halim here [hyperlink to LLS story about Judge].
Judge Halim and ProDRD are currently working on organizing a nationwide conference in Dhaka to jumpstart conversations about ADR reform in Bangladesh. If you are interested in partnering with us in this effort, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
In 2016, ProDRD and the Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives (FSRI) won a competitive bid to provide mediation training and systems design advice for the Commercial Court in Montserrado County. The project was organized by the World Bank Group as part of its Insolvency Program in Liberia.
In the first phase of the project, an international delegation comprised of Professor Aragaki and ProDRD consultants Hon. Robert Levy (U.S.A.), Ms. Caroline Etuk (Nigeria) and Ms. Diana Dapaa (Ghana) travelled to Monrovia in January 2017 to train 23 judges and lawyers in mediation skills. ProDRD created a training manual specifically geared to the project’s needs and objectives as well as three role-play simulations, complete with confidential information for the parties and a list of applicable legal authorities, based on actual commercial cases published in the Liberian Law Reports.
In the second phase of the project, Professor Aragaki returned with Mr. Victor Schachter (FSRI) and Ms. Etuk to coach trainees as they mediated cases hand-picked from the Commercial Court’s docket. The experience provided the trainees with a rare opportunity to receive real-time feedback and supervision during the mediation of an actual case with parties and their lawyers present. Several systems design meetings were also held with the judges of the Commercial Court to assist in establishing a regularized procedure for referring cases to mediation and to promote sustainability.
The ProDRD-FSRI delegation also helped organize and participated in a day-long event entitled, Liberia’s Commercial Mediation Program: A Key to Business Success and Effective Dispute Resolution. The event was designed to raise awareness about mediation generally and the Commercial Court’s new mediation program in particular. Justice Theresa Isidore Obot of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, delivered an inspiring keynote address that described her tenacious efforts to change mindsets and overcome scepticism about ADR in Nigeria. Justice Obot’s keynote was followed by two panels at which key stakeholders such as the Judge Eva Mappy Morgan, Chief Judge of the Commercial Court, Mr. John Davies III, President of the Liberia Bankers Association, Mr. Francis Dennis, President of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce and Counsellor Moses Paegar, President of the Liberia National Bar Association gave presentations.
At the end of the week the delegation participated in the annual Law Day Celebration, attended by lawyers from around the country and presided by the Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. [The custom is for all lawyers to come dressed in T-shirts specifically created for the Law Day rather than in their formal business attire.] Mr. Schachter delivered a powerful speech recounting how mediation first took root in the U.S. and the many challenges he and other mediation advocates faced at the time. He encouraged those interested in mediation to keep an open mind and remain optimistic about mediation’s potential to improve access to justice in Liberia.
ProDRD hopes to continue providing support to the World Bank Group in its laudable efforts to continue developing the Commercial Court’s mediation program. We also welcome any news, inquiries, or requests for assistance from our former trainees as they gain more experience mediating cases.
The World Bank Group
The Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives
The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse
ProDRD welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with individuals, NGOs and governmental entities working in the developing world. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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ProDRD is affiliated with Loyola Law School and Loyola Marymount University, which is a 501(c)(3). We welcome donations.