Tribunal with more teeth to settle feuds

Tribunal with more teeth to settle feuds
Dr Lim Lan Yuan, 62, has been a volunteer with the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) volunteer for 14 years.

WARRING neighbours could be hauled before a planned tribunal that will have more teeth to settle their disputes.

It would be presided over by a judge with powers to compel the neighbours to go for mediation and issue orders that must be obeyed, according to the Community Disputes Resolution Bill introduced in Parliament on Monday.

Now, neighbours embroiled in disputes can speak to grassroots leaders or seek help at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), which cannot issue legal orders.

The new Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals is intended as a final resort to resolve longstanding arguments, after community mediation efforts have been exhausted.

This feature was stressed by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong last March when he announced plans to set up the tribunal.

The move for a tribunal is partly prompted by the lack of success in resolving some of the rows, which is in part due to the high rate of one or more parties not turning up.

The current no-show rate is 60 per cent as attendance is not compulsory.

But cases of neighbourly strife have remained constant: In 2013, the CMC handled 525 cases, down from 610 in 2012.

In 2011, there were 593 cases.

Common disputes include dripping laundry, rowdy pets and the use of common areas.

Noise complaints top the list, with over 70,000 complaints received annually by the authorities, including the Housing Board and police.

This article was first published on Jan 21, 2015.
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