Well, that is what everyone is looking for, but generally there is a catch!
In Hong Kong the Hong Kong Mediation Council, a division of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, has announced a Pro-Bono Mediation Scheme for the Construction Industry for low value construction disputes! The intention of this scheme is to encourage many organisations who may not be familiar with Mediation to consider Mediation as the first means of resolving disputes, and to enable many more organisations to become familiar with this form of dispute resolution. For the uninitiated Pro-Bono means “done for the public good without compensation”.
Is this a case of Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes? (this is usually, and somewhat inaccurately translated as “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”) Coming as it does from Hong Kong, one might be forgiven for being sceptical about this offer! However this is not a Nathan Road rip off! This is a genuine offer which is, however, subject to certain conditions, some of which I summarize as follows:
1. The combined value of all claims and counterclaims cannot exceed HK$ 2 million (approx. US$250,000).
2. There is a limit of one “free” Mediation per organization during the trial period.
3. The Mediator will provide upto a maximum of 24 hours total involvement for the “free” Mediation. If further hours are required and agreed to by the parties, then such hours will be charged at HK$1,500.00/hr (approx. US$190/hr) to be shared equally between the parties.
4. The Mediator is selected by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, not by the parties.
5. The trial period started on 1st January 2003 and runs for 1 year
6. The HKIAC may refuse a request for a Pro Bono Mediation under this scheme at its sole discretion and without stating a reason.
Interested? Then please contact the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre at:
38/F Two Exchange Square
8 Connaught Place
Hong Kong SAR
Tel : +852 2525 2381
Fax: + 852 2524 2171
and ask for details of the Pro-Bono Mediation Scheme.
The Government of Hong Kong, in its Standard Contract documents for Engineering and Building Works, has for over 10 years provided for optional mediation prior to arbitration for settlement of disputes. Surprisingly, the Standard Form of Building Contract currently used by the Private Sector has never been amended to provide for Mediation. A new form of building contract (providing for, amongst others, mediation) has been in draft form for many years, but there is no indication as to when, if ever, it will be formally published for use.
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