Prime Minister Hun Manet has approved a draft Royal Decree on the establishment, organisation and functioning of the new National Authority for Out-of-Court Mediation, one of the four agenda items passed during an October 27 Cabinet meeting.

The Government Spokespersons Unit announced that the draft, comprising six chapters and 22 articles, sets the terms for the establishment, organisation and functioning of the authority, which will provide a mechanism for effectively resolving legal disputes through out-of-court mediation.

The decree was established with the intent of reducing a backlog of cases in the Kingdom’s court system, bringing solutions closer to the public and ensuring harmony and justice in society. Each decision it makes will respect the free will – on a voluntary basis – of both parties to any conflict, the unit explained.

The authority will be established to solve civil cases and commercial disputes, among others, through contract-based mediation between both parties, in order to determine a finding that is equitable to all. The parties in dispute may propose their own solutions, or accept those found via the mediation mechanism, as long as the findings are legal and acceptable to all parties.

A Deputy Prime Minister will serve as its president, supported by four vice-presidents made up of one Senior Minister, the Minister of Inspections, one secretary of state from the Ministry of Interior and one from the Ministry of Justice. The other members will be drawn for various relevant ministries, with a secretariat serving to administer the authority.

“This Royal Decree will establish a significant legal framework to solidify and promote the effectiveness of mediation to end conflict among people, especially in smaller communities, in a fast, trustworthy manner,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Koeut Rith, in his motion statement to the Cabinet.

He also requested that the prime minister allow the authority to begin work as soon as it is officially formed.

As the draft decree was reviewed and discussed at the Cabinet meeting, Manet spoke highly of the mechanism.

“This mechanism will not replace the courts, but provide an additional option. For the sake of maintaining harmony in Khmer society, it will be voluntary, and no one will be forced to utilise it,” he said.

Manet also stressed the importance of raising public awareness of the new mechanism, in order to ensure it is well understood by the general public. He instructed the Council of Ministers to work with the justice ministry to submit it to King Norodom Sihamoni for review and promulgation, with immediate effect.