First training programme on dispute resolution launched in SA by RICS

Globally, the resolution of disputes before embarking on costly litigation is an increasing trend. And with the South African government about to make it mandatory for all court cases to go through a mediation process before they can be set down for trial, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has launched an internationally accredited mediation training programme in this country.

Specifically designed for professionals - both legal and non-legal, working in the built and other commercial environments, the first intensive five-day training course is being held at Zevenwacht Wine Estate in Kuils River, Cape Town in August.

This non-residential course comprises two modules, the first being an Introduction to Mediation and Dispute Resolution Management, held from 15-17 August 2012 while the second module, RICS Accredited Mediator Training, is on 18 and 19 August. The programme is conducted by Dr John Fletcher, director of RICS Alternative Dispute Resolution Services worldwide.

Comments Fletcher: “Parties involved in the dispute should emerge either with a realistic and commercially viable settlement of the matter or at least a narrowing of the issues and a clear idea of how well their case would stack up if they carried on to court or arbitration. By doing this, the mediation process saves money and provides the parties with the best possible opportunity for setting a matter quickly. In addition, and importantly, it gives effect to the parties’ wider commercial interests rather than just the narrow legal issues involved in the dispute itself.
“With RICS’ century-and-a-half of experience in the built environment, we specialise in offering expert dispute resolution services and training. Our approach to mediation is that the process needs to be commercially based, hard-nosed and robust.

“Although many of our top dispute resolvers are property lawyers, in the UK for example, chartered surveyors have also been deeply involved in dispute resolution for over a century. They have many real advantages - they are less inclined to rely on technicalities, they speak the same ‘language’ as the parties involved, and they drill down to the heart of the matter quickly. Coupled with this, their real experience and expertise in the field makes them a very popular choice with contractors and clients alike,” adds Fletcher.

RICS is already in the process of creating fully trained and internationally accredited South Africa panels of dispute resolvers. It is also negotiating with the key players involved in introducing South Africa’s Mandatory Court Mediation scheme, to enable built environment cases to be transferred to accredited sector expert mediators in the RICS President’s Panel of Southern African Dispute Resolution practitioners.

The forthcoming training course is open to all professions in the built environment sector, including lawyers, valuers, land and quantity surveyors and construction and property managers. The second module can only be completed after the first module is concluded and successful completion of both modules certifies the delegate as a RICS accredited mediator.  The cost of the first module is R12 000, while the cost of the full programme, comprising both modules, is R22 000. Reduced fees are available for RICS’ members, referrals or corporate bookings for a minimum of three delegates.

Further training courses are to be held in South Africa in the near future, with the next programme being planned for Johannesburg in mid-November.

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