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Hon. Ameurfina Melencio Herrera Chancellor, Philippine Judicial Academy
Definition Court-Annexed Mediation, as practiced in the Philippines, is an enhanced pre-trial procedure that involves settling mediatable cases1 filed in court with the assistance of a mediator who has been accredited by the Philippine Supreme Court. The mediator assists party litigants to identify issues and develop proposals to resolve their disputes. Since the installation of the JURIS2 Project in 2003, the process has come to include the Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR). Mediation has also moved upward from the trial court level to the Appeals Court level. Designation of the Philippine Judicial Academy On October 16, 2001, the Supreme Court of the Philippines designated the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) as its component unit for court-referred, courtrelated mediation cases and other ADR mechanisms. This was a follow-through to the 1997 directive of the Court to PHILJA “to conduct an in-depth examination of our present legal and judicial system for the purpose of upgrading, improving, and reforming it to meet the changes in and challenges of the new millennium.” What better mechanism than through Court-Annexed Mediation (CAM) aimed at declogging the heavy dockets of our courts and giving our judges quality time for the rendition of persuasive decisions!
Compliance and Procedure Deliberately and cautiously, the Academy took one step at a time in establishing court-annexed mediation.
A Presentation by Justice Ameurfina A. Melencio Herrera, retired Justice of the Supreme Court, and Chancellor of the Philippine Judicial Academy, at the International Conference and Showcase on Judicial Reforms, Parallel Session C, November 29, 2005, at the Makati Shangri-La, Philippines.
All civil cases, settlement of estates, and cases covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure, except those which by law may not be compromised; Cases covered by the Lupong Tagapamayapa under the Katarungang Pamparangay Law; Civil aspect of quasi-offenses under Title 14 of the Revised Penal Code; Civil aspect of Estafa and Libel cases where damages are sought (A.M. No.04-2-04-SC, dated July 20, 2004, effective August 16, 2004). Justice Reforms Initiatives Support Project in support of the APJR.
The project has now become a 3 Supreme Court Issuances re Court-Annexed Mediation 1. we have established two (2) JURIS model court sites in San Fernando. Administrative Circular No. Administrative Order NO. and Bacolod City in the Visayan Islands. Guidelines on procedures to be followed. Development partners lent us all the assistance they could. A. We have established twenty-nine (29) Mediation Center Units in Metro Manila. Essentials Inclusion in the Action Plan for Judicial Reforms (APJR) The priority given to ADR by the APJR. No. Acceding to requests for the opening of Mediation Centers. through the Executive Judges. 01-10-5-SC-PHILJA and OCA Circular No. which have been mainly responsible for these endeavors. . PMC Units operate under the control and supervision of PHILJA in coordination with the Office of the Court Administrator. Administrative Order No. and onward to the elevation of the mediation effort to the Court of Appeals in Manila (Luzon). an officer-in-charge. the guidance and steady support of the Supreme Court have been indispensable factors in making CAM work. The JURIS Project is also opening up new sites in Baguio City. implementation of CAM started in 2001.M. declaration of Settlement Periods. Metro Davao. The Supreme Court and its different units have been most supportive. all emanated from the Court upon recommendation of the Academy3. to implementation. The Mediation Center is run by a Unit Coordinator. Davide to the Judiciary. Island of Luzon. Administrative Circulars. 1999). to expansion. from pilot-testing. 2001). 5. Metro Cebu. which is the legacy of Chief Justice Hilario G. I would like to make special mention of the US AID and THE ASIA FOUNDATION. and Cagayan de Oro and General Santos City in Mindanao. and a Daily Supervisor. in Cebu City (Visayas). and linking up with CAM in Cagayan de Oro for its Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR) component. amendments of the Rules of Court on Legal Fees. contributes greatly to the success of this pioneer endeavor.” OCA Circular No. Amended Guidelines for the Implementation of Mediation/Conciliation Proceedings in the Pilot Areas of Mandaluyong City and Valenzuela City (November 16. With the JURIS project started in 2002. These Centers are now operational and render daily mediation services in their respective areas. 2-2002 re Memorandum on Policy Guidelines between OCA and IBP. Pampanga. we have expanded CAM to Tacloban City in the Visayas. 24-2001 re: Inclusion of Additional Participants in the Amicable Settlement Weeks (March 5. who are assisted by judicial officials and court personnel. Guidance and Support from the Supreme Court The receptiveness to reforms. and in Cagayan de Oro City (Mindanao). which is the capital of the Cordillera Autonomous Region. 4. 82-2001 re: Designating the Philippine Judicial Academy as the Component Unit of the Supreme Court of the Court-Referred. Court-Related Mediation Cases and Other Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms. 21-2001 re: Participation in the Amicable Settlement Weeks. and adjacent sites. 2. and Establishing the Philippine Mediation Center for the Purpose. 20-2002 re Monthly Inventory and Referral of Cases for Mediation 3.2 With a success rate of 85% of the 2nd pilot-testing in 2000.
DCA Jose P. both headed by Professor Eduardo de los Angeles former Dean. Malenab Hornilla . Guideline for Lawyers A significant Guideline contributory to making CAM work was issued by the Supreme Court in 9 March 2004.” 2. “Re-accreditation of the 179 PHILJA Mediators. Administrative Memorandum No. Agabin . have spearheaded. 2004). de los Angeles Members . The Working Committees The ADR Committee and the Design and Management Committee.Justice Ameurfina A. whose avocation is ADR since many years back.Comm. “Implementing Rules and Regulations on Medation in the Trial Courts.Judge Lucia V.Dean Pacifico A. 2004). Tadiar . participate in the mediation session. 5. “Revised Guidelines for the Implementation of Mediation in the Court of Appeals.Dean Eduardo D.DCA Bernardo T. Agabin . Melencio Herrera . through the Philippine Judicial Academy.Chairman Alfredo T. Linda L.3 benchmark program of the Supreme Court. Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Presiding Officer .Justice Ameurfina A. 2004). and the Committee members. 8.Chairman Alfredo T. Clerks of Court. Additional Requisites for Inclusion in Complaints.Justice Jose C. 2004) Administrative Memorandum No. 04-3-05-SC “Guidelines for Parties’ Counsel in Court-Annexed Mediation Cases” (March 23. Vitug . Cueva . 6. Perez . managed and monitored all efforts. “Implementing Rules and Regulations on Mediation in the Trial Courts. Ponferrada . Tadiar . retroactive from January 1.4 The Court Officials and Personnel The active participation. Vitug . Malenab Hornilla Design & Management Committee .Dean Pacifico A.Comm.DCA Jose P. collaboration. 9.” 4. It requires parties’ counsel in court-annexed mediation cases. Perez .Dean Eulogia M. Presiding Judges. Administrative Memorandum No.Dean Eulogia M. Melencio Herrera Chair . Linda L. Petitions and Other Initiatory Pleadings filed in all courts other than the Supreme Court. effective for a term of two years. and now President of the Manuel L.” 3.Justice Jose C. to prepare the client for mediation. 2005” (March 24.Dean Eduardo D. Isnani . Sandiganbayan and Court of Tax Appeals. Ponferrada . Court-annexed mediation has been institutionalized. assist in the preparation of the Compromise Agreement and provide guidance in compliance with the terms of judgment on a compromise. de los Angeles . 4 Administrative Memorandum No.DCA Bernardo T. Torres . Cueva . Court of Appeals. The guideline was essential because of resistance encountered from the legal profession. Quezon University. 04-1-12-SC re Guidelines for the Implementation of an Enhanced Pre-trial Proceeding Through Conciliation and Neutral Evaluation (January 20. 04-2-04-SC re: Proposed Revision of Rule 141.Justice Justo P. and cooperation of the Honorable Court Administrator. of a Determination that Cases are Mediatable. Revised Rules of Court (August 16. The Academy owes them a debt of gratitude for making CAM work. 2004 and up to December 31. 04-3-15-SC-PHILJA re: 1. Branch Clerks of Court and court personnel designated by Executive Judges have also been instrumental in ensuring the effectiveness of CAM. 7. Executive Judges.
The Mediation Centers rely on the Presiding Judges for the referral of cases to mediation. a Compromise Agreement signed by the parties and counsel is furnished the court. in civil cases. Upon appearance of the parties during pre-trial in cases covered by mediation. for the financially disadvantaged in society. or at a reduced rate. The Mediation Center This is run by a Unit Coordinator. which shall then set the case for resumption of pre-trial and thereafter. the case is returned to the court. The Mediation Process Making mediation a part of Pre-trial also accounts for making the program work. In criminal cases. The Clerk of Court collects and deposits the mediation fees. and a Daily Supervisor.4 The Executive Judge directs the judges in areas where PMC units exist. They are bound by a Code of Ethical Standards for Mediators. The Mediators The effectiveness of court-annexed mediation rests heavily on mediators. They undergo basic training for five days. And in the Court of Appeals. During this period. they are collected upon the filing of a complaint and an answer with a mediatable permissive or compulsory counterclaim. they handle actual court cases. If mediation fails. The Mediation Fees These are collected in the trial court and the appellate court levels. Judicial officials and court personnel assist them. and an Internship Program for one month under the guidance of mentors. They must be ready to serve pro bono. We now have 311 mediators and 216 newly trained mediators. the Judge immediately directs the parties to appear before the Mediation Center unit located in the courthouse. Only those accredited by the Court are qualified to mediate in court-annexed mediation. The court personnel assist in said referral and in the preparation of the inventory of cases. Fees are also collected in appeals from the 1st level courts to the Regional Trial Courts. and in appeals from the Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals or Sandiganbayan. an officer-in-charge. They are officers of the court when in the performance of their functions. upon the filing of a mediatable case. special civil action. If Mediation succeeds. This referral is mandatory. and monthly reports. In the trial courts. We have professional Mediators. They are accredited by the Supreme Court. The Mediation Fund . The Branch Clerk of Court segregates the mediatable cases from the rest. upon the filing of a complaint or information. The Clerk-in-charge acts as liaison of the Executive Judge. to try and decide the case on its merits in areas not covered by JURIS. comment/answer to the petition and the appellee’s brief.
lawyers. Mediation Statistics Court-annexed Mediation (CAM) (as of June 2005) . The organizational structure in place has to be converted into a more permanent one. the case goes to the pair Judge for trial in order to preserve confidentiality. Mediators must have proper qualifications and comprehensive training. there should also be continued recruitment and training. The JURIS Project This is the Justice Reforms Initiatives Support Project in support of the APJR. the case is brought back to court for the JDR process. If JDR fails. pauper litigants are exempted from contributing to the Mediation Fund. If mediation fails in the Pre-trial stage. the public. It is a 5-year bilateral project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). It is now institutionalized and mediation is in full swing. mediator. The Appeals Court Mediation Project Encouraged by the success of CAM. officials and personnel of the judiciary. A total of thirty-one (31) model courts in two pilot sites have adopted and institutionalized the use of CAM and ADR. training of mediators. municipal Treasurer or Assessor. and the provincial. litigants) and to work in collaboration with the units. The Project has shown considerable success in the first eleven (11) months of implementation and is becoming part of the judicial landscape.JURIS Project . and with PHILJA as a partner. operating expenses of the PMC units. 77% 67% • • . To ensure access to justice.CAM Appeals Court Mediation (ACM) (Pilot Testing 2003) Lessons Learned • There is need to enlist the cooperation of all stakeholders (judges. etc. The proceedings remain confidential. payment of mediators’ fees. It is designed to strengthen the use of mediation as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) through the combined mechanisms of CAM and Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR). with a separate budget for the Mediation Centers. This shall be utilized for the promotion of court-annexed mediation. with the National Judicial Institute as the Canadian Executing Agency. we started the Appeals Court Mediation Project (ACM) in 2003. local governments.5 Mediation Fees are collected even in areas where there are no PMC units in order to build up a Mediation Fund. PHILJA is strengthening family courts and the family mediation program through this project. Also exempted are the Republic of the Philippines. or neutral evaluator. The judge becomes a conciliator.
Systems. and quality of dispute resolution services. We will have to sustain the expansion of the program.” Court-annexed mediation is hardly a panacea for the resolution of all disputes. but it provides an alternative venue. and tracking impact. be a thing of the past. • Planning for the Future Our blue-print of action includes the opening up of additional sites all over the country with a target of at least one Mediation Center Unit in each of the thirteen (13) judicial regions. Intergenerational litigation would hopefully. We will need legislation that will institutionalize Mediation Centers and provide them with their own budget. Manuals should be prepared for the guidance of Mediators and all stakeholders. We will have to strengthen the organizational structure of the Philippine Mediation Center and all its Units nationwide. We will expand the cases to be covered by Mediation. with faithful dedication to the effort. An independent evaluation is best conduced that will assess the impact of mediation on the speed of dispute resolution. costs of litigation.” . and procedures should be improved. We will have to arrive at the proper and reasonable fees to be paid our Courtannexed Mediators. Until we have that budget. We will have to determine the sufficiency and viability of the fees that are now being collected under the provision of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court. in prescribed forms should be submitted for proper tracking and improvement of processes.6 • • • • • • • Mediation fees and the fee structure for Mediators are crucial considerations. Settlement can actually happen within one’s lifetime. JURIS. It was our hero. we will have to ask for the indulgence of our development partners under the continued Action Plan for Judicial Reforms. as its “instrumental value. and ACM programs. Submission of reports. with firm belief in its potential to reduce the backlog of the courts. as its “intrinsic value. measuring success. Proper techniques must be prescribed for evaluation. including financial reports. Conclusion This then is how we have made Court-annexed mediation work and how we prepare to make it work in the Philippines. Rizal who commented on “cases that last an eternity handed down from fathers to sons and grandsons. operations. A data collection system should be designed that will track various performance indicators such as decreased dockets.” and to empower our people to settle their own disputes. There is need to integrate the curriculum for CAM. We will enhance Family Mediation. Jose P.
is committed to make Court-annexed mediation work. .7 The Philippine Judicial Academy. as the component unit for Mediation of the Supreme Court.
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