RICS ramps up its mediation service as South Africa compels dispute mediation

Information from RICS

A recent amendment by the Rules Board for Courts of Law now compels South Africans to consider mediation as a solution for any legal matter before going to court. As a result, there is a growing demand for mediators who understand the technical nature of a conflict and help parties reach an amicable settlement. While courts in South Africa have recognised mediation for a long time as an alternative form of dispute resolution, the voluntary process has now become mandatory.

“This provides opportunities for professionals to become mediators, enabling them to utilise their skills in the resolution of disputes,” said TC Chetty, RICS country manager South Africa.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Dispute Resolution Service, founded in 1976, is a built environment-focused ADR appointing body, making upward of 5000 appointments annually internationally. “RICS adopts an evaluative approach to mediation which is well suited to our area of specialisation: construction, property and land disputes,” says John Fletcher, RICS global director of the service.

RICS has trained mediators in South Africa for nearly a decade, and is now ramping up its service. RICS is looking to train and empanel more construction, valuation, project management, quantity surveyors, claims consultancy and other built environment professionals, as well as lawyers with a built environment element in their practice.

Prospective mediators will need to undergo the RICS 40-hour Evaluative Mediation Training Programme, subscribe to RICS’s ethical guidelines, and undergo a panel interview before being eligible to be appointed to RICS built environment mediations. This ensures when the appointed mediator is experienced and skilled to mediate efficiently.

Expert knowledge guides mediators to focus on the issues in disputes and forge a resolution. A mediator who understands the relevant technical aspects can grasp the essential facts and reduce the number of issues. This can help achieve inexpensive settlement of disputes and allows the parties to return to their core business activities.