Conciliation means settling disputes without litigation. It is an informal process in which conciliator i.e. third party tries to bring the disputants to agreement. He overcomes the disputable issues by lowering the tension, improvement in communication, interpreting issues, providing technical assistance, exploring potential solutions and bringing the negotiated settlement before the parties. Conciliator adopts his own method to resolve the dispute and the steps taken by him are not strict and legal. There is no need of agreement like arbitration agreement. The acceptance of settlement is needed by both of the parties.
Part III of arbitration and conciliation Act, 1996, deals with conciliation. it is a voluntary proceeding where parties in dispute agree to resolve their dispute through conciliation. It is a flexible process which allows the parties to decide the time and place for conciliation, structure, content and terms of negotiations. In Conciliation, the conciliators are trained and qualified neutral person who help the conflicting parties to make them understand the issues in dispute and their interest to reach mutually accepted agreements. The conciliation process includes the discussion between the parties which is made with the participation of the conciliator. It covers many disputes like industrial disputes, marriage disputes, family disputes etc. This allows the parties to control the output of their dispute. The result is also likely to be satisfactory.
Conciliator is the third party who is involved in settling the dispute of the parties. Generally, there is one conciliator for the settlement but there can be more than one conciliator, if the parties have requested for the same. If there is more than one conciliator then they will act jointly in the matter. Section 64 deals with the appointment of conciliator which states that if there is more than one conciliator then the third conciliator will act as the Presiding Conciliator
Kinds of Conciliation
- Voluntary Conciliation- In this method parties can voluntarily participate in the process of conciliation for resolving their dispute.
- Compulsory Conciliation- If parties do not want to take the opportunity of voluntary conciliation then they can go for compulsory conciliation. In this method, if the parties do not want to meet the other party to resolve the dispute then the process is said to be compulsory. This method is commonly used in labour cases.
Procedure of Conciliation
- The objective of the conciliation proceedings is to reach upon mutual terms, speedy and cost-effective settlement of the dispute.
- Section 62 discuss the initiative of conciliation will start when one party will send Written Invitation to conciliate upon the matter to the other party.
- There will be the commencement of procedure if the other party accepts the invitation in writing to conciliate. If the other party rejects the invitation or the party who is willing for the conciliation does not get a reply from the other party within Thirty days then it will be treated as a Rejection of the Invitation.
- Section 65 explains the submission of the statements of both the parties to the conciliators. Each party should submit a brief written statement regarding dispute as requested by the conciliator. The statement should describe the general nature of the dispute and the points of issue. Each party should send a copy of their statement to the other party.
- The conciliator can also ask for the submission of written statements which includes issues of the parties, grounds of settlement etc. These statements must be supplemented by evidence, documents or visual representation. The copy of the same statement must be sent to the other party. Conciliator can also request for additional documents whenever he needs them.
- According to section 67(3) and 69(1), the conciliator can set up meetings for the parties or he can meet parties together or separately. The place of meeting can be decided by parties or conciliators. He can also communicate with the parties orally or in written form. He must also consider the party’s expressed wishes like quick settlement of the case which also depends upon the circumstances of the case.
Advantages and disadvantages of Conciliation
- The conciliation procedure is of private nature. The documents, evidences or any other information which are used during the process are Confidential.
- One of the most important advantages is that they are Informal process and contains Simple procedures which can be easily followed by the general people.
- The process depends upon the circumstances of the case. In these processes the need of the parties comes first like quick settlement of their cases so there is no chance for delay.
- The selection of the conciliators depends upon the parties. The parties can choose conciliator on the basis of their availability, experience in particular field, previous track records of the cases, knowledge in subject area.
- The conciliation is cheap as compared to litigation. They are cost effective and most opted process for resolving disputes. It purely depends upon the nature of the dispute but is widely acceptable.
- Conciliator is not a legally qualified person for resolving disputes. His decision is not binding upon the parties.
- As the procedure of conciliation is informal and simple there is high possibility of delivering injustice.
- Miscommunication of information: The role of the conciliator to settle up the case by giving information of one party to another and vice versa. The process of sending and receiving information sometimes leads to mixed and incorrect information. So, by these processes one can easily interpret the information given.