SINGAPORE - 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 on Tuesday (Nov 10) for their outstanding commitment to pro bono work amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
He received the Outstanding Court Volunteer award in the Advocate and Solicitor category as well as 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 attributed his continuing stint as a volunteer to his passion for mediation.
"You know, I was just doing what I like to do," he said.
The lawyer, 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 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.
"After all this experience that I have gathered or acquired over the years... I want to put them to good use."
Another award recipient 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. 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 due to the pandemic.
Instead, each volunteer received two jars of cookies made by a bakery of YR Industries, a subsidiary of Yellow Ribbon Singapore.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has 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.
"Here, I continue to be delighted by the efforts of our judiciary volunteers and the excellent contributions they make as pro bono lawyers, mediators and as members of committees and projects."