As the COVID-19 pandemic forces businesses to adjust or suspend their operations, the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are supporting Georgian companies in resolving emerging disputes so that they can stay in business.
Starting from 23 April, remote mediation and facilitation services for businesses of all sizes will be available through a three-month pilot project set in motion by the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Georgian International Arbitration Center (GIAC) and the mediation initiative RESOLVE, with EU and UNDP support.
“The EU is mobilising massive support to assist Georgia in dealing with the health and economic challenges posed by the current crisis. Everyone needs to adapt to the new situation, including businesses. I am therefore happy to announce today, together with UNDP, the launch of free online mediation and facilitation services: a small, but hopefully useful, contribution to help businesses navigate through the current crisis,” noted Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia.
“To save lives, much of Georgia’s economic life has been brought to a halt,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “But livelihoods are also important. Online mediation and facilitation provide companies with flexible and accessible tools to prevent, manage and settle disputes with their business partners, avoiding financial losses and keeping people employed during the economic downturn.”
Online dispute resolution will be delivered by experienced professionals and certified mediators based on the specific rules and remote mediation and facilitation protocols developed by the Georgian International Arbitration Center (GIAC). This confidential, impartial, flexible and speedy process will help Georgian companies discuss emerging issues with their business counterparts and re-negotiate terms and conditions of agreements that need to be reviewed because of the coronavirus crisis.
Interested companies can apply online to the GIAC Secretariat, which will assist them to initiate a mediation or facilitation process. To be eligible, requests must be submitted by companies that are facing business disputes because of the pandemic and registered in Georgia.
To reduce the financial burden on business and make online dispute resolution more accessible, the EU and UNDP will cover one-day mediation and facilitation costs during the pilot stage of the project while GIAC will fully waive its administrative fee.
More information about online mediation and facilitation in commercial disputes is available at www.giac.ge.
Development of alternative dispute resolution is part of larger EU and UNDP support to Georgian business, aiming to promote the use of fair and efficient mediation and arbitration in commercial disputes, enhance the professionalism of Georgian mediators and arbitrators and improve the business environment and access to justice.