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Court volunteers honoured for commitment to pro bono work

Court volunteers honoured for commitment to pro bono work

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 11 Nov 2020
Author: Dominic Low

The peace-building processes are equally important to help foster enduring restorative solutions: CJ.

While mediating a dispute between two parties in the State Courts, lawyer Rengarajoo Rengasamy Balasamy noticed that one of them refused to speak.

"To make things worse, he did not even want to look at the other party," said the 76-year-old lawyer.

After talking to the disputant privately, Mr Rengarajoo eventually made him comfortable enough to participate in the mediation session, and the matter was later resolved.

Mr Rengarajoo was among 43 volunteers of the Supreme Court, State Courts and Family Justice Courts who received awards yesterday for their outstanding commitment to pro bono work.

He received the Outstanding Court Volunteer award in the Advocate and Solicitor category. He also received the 10-year Long Service Award.

Mr Rengarajoo, who has been a litigation lawyer for 34 years, joined the State Courts' panel of volunteer mediators in 2010.

These mediators handle cases in the State Courts that have been referred by judges for mediation or where parties have opted for it.

Mr Rengarajoo, who also handles disputes at the Singapore Mediation Centre, said that mediating any dispute is a challenge.

This is particularly so when the parties have no intention of resolving their disagreement, and might even be attending sessions to find out how to strengthen their case.

Mr Rengarajoo has no plans to stop volunteering any time soon.

"On the contrary, there is every reason for me to continue as a mediator and perform better," he said.

Another Outstanding Court Volunteer award recipient, in the Open category, was Mr Indu Kumar Vasudevan, who was the first court volunteer mediator to use the e-Mediation function in the State Courts' online case filing and management system. He also provided feedback to improve the user experience for e-Mediation.

Polytechnic student Jordan Lim Zi Rui was another award recipient, in the Student category. He was involved in the development of an online tool which helps parties determine their eligibility to seek relief from their contractual obligations under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

The annual appreciation dinner for all 330 court volunteers was not held this year, owing to the coronavirus situation.

Instead, each volunteer received cookies made by a bakery under YR Industries, a subsidiary of Yellow Ribbon Singapore.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon expressed his appreciation to the court volunteers.

"Justice, of course, is not confined to the traditional modes of dispute resolution. Equally important are the peace-building processes that help foster enduring restorative solutions," he said in his message to the volunteers.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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