I recently returned from a week in Chisinau, the extremely snowy capital of Moldova. As part of their on-going commitment to change, the Moldovan Ministry of Justice has recently prepared a Justice Sector Reform Strategy 2011-2015. A key pillar of this strategy is to promote economic development. Assisting them reach this goal, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have retained CEDR as consultants to promote and facilitate the use of commercial mediation and arbitration and enhance the practice of enforcing foreign arbitral awards to promote a more positive business environment.
In this initial visit, my colleague and I met with key decision-makers from the Ministry of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Magistracy of the Judiciary, Universities and business-leaders to investigate what they thought would be the most effective means of ADR development within their jurisdiction. Having experience within countries in economic and political transition such as Georgia, Romania, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, many of the issues faced within Moldova are similar but their methods of implementing an efficient and effective ADR system are unique. Within every meeting, I was struck by the enthusiasm of Moldovan officials to their on-going commitment to change and their focus on increasing the capacity of their judicial system to increase access to justice and promote a fertile business climate.
My visit is sure to be the first of many. CEDR will shortly be organising the training of the first court-based mediators for a pilot programme run in two courts. The challenge will be in raising awareness from and building the trust of the legal and business communities in the alternative method of the resolution of disputes in order to increase mediation take-up. This challenge is increased by Moldova’s history as a country with a strong central power-base and a tradition of having judges solely issuing determinations. However, through working with these groups, government and other organisations these challenges are not insurmountable.
Moldova, with its excellent economic and trade relations with both the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the EU (the government are actively pursuing membership), is a country that will undoubtedly become a destination of choice for foreign investment and business. In meeting this exciting new future, the introduction of ADR mechanisms as a business tool can only help.