Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Robert Hilton at the Launch of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center

July 19, 2018

Chargé d’Affaires Hilton:  Thank you, I appreciate it.  The bio as well.

Bruce, you said you felt like you were performing in front of a circus.  To me it feels like I ought to be dressed in a traditional Kandyan outfit in a celebrity wedding or perhaps a cricketer’s wedding of some kind in this lovely large tent.

Let me thank you all for coming and offer my congratulations to the Ceylon Chamber and to the Institute for the Development of Commercial Law and Practice, on the creation of this Alternative Dispute Resolution Center.  I want to acknowledge and thank, of course, Dhara and everyone from the Ceylon Chamber for the work that they put into this. Shehara and Dr. Kanag Isvaran for their efforts from the ICLP as well. And Bruce, as a layman, I am grateful for your sincere remarks that emphasize the importance of what’s being done as well as the challenges that everyone faces, as well as your kind remarks about the United States.

The Center, in our minds, represents an enormous step or possible step for Sri Lanka in its effort to promote economic activity and attract foreign investment as it provides businesses and investors a stable and efficient way to handle commercial disputes.  It is my hope, our hope, that the Center will become an instrumental tool in the development of Sri Lanka’s commercial and law and economic environments. ADR mechanisms, as you know, allow businesses to solve disputes in an inexpensive, confidential, and most importantly, timely manner.  ADR promotes amiable dealings between investors and businesses and creates an atmosphere that is conducive to commercial activities. For American companies this is a particular concern of ours. This is essential to entering and working in the Sri Lankan economy.

And as Shehara said, the problems of delay and expense are certainly not unique to Sri Lanka.  They are universal. Yet as Bruce also described, they are particularly acute here. Bruce said we need to crack the nut.  Perhaps the analogy in Sri Lanka would be to crack the coconut, representing the problem that we have here.

But ADR will be hopefully a solution to this, not of course, a competitor to judicial proceedings but as a system that is complementary to the judicial system, working more efficiently together.  ADR can help alleviate backlogs of the court systems and will also allow investors to avoid lengthy and potentially expensive litigation.

The U.S. government is very pleased to be partnering in this initiative with the Ceylon Chamber and the ICLP through the U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program, or CLDP, as you’ve heard.  We will continue to bolster the status of the Center through continued training and technical expertise. CLDP, the Ceylon Chamber and the ICLP have already conducted its first trainings for over a dozen arbitrators this week.  

As we heard from Zamarak as well, I want to recognize and thank the 24 students from six Sri Lankan universities who have been undergoing the training in international arbitration as well as Coach Ha, and congratulate you again on your success in the international competition.

The U.S. Department of State is very happy to support the Department of Commerce implementing this and future activities.  To date the Department of State has provided nearly $5 million , 800 million rupees, to the CLDP over a three-year series of activities including training that will, we believe, improve Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in the global economy, support American business opportunities in Sri Lanka and expand the Sri Lankan market for American and other foreign goods.

It is a pleasure for us to associate with all of you in this exercise.  It is not possible without the good partnerships that we have in the United States, but also with the Sri Lankan institutions, particularly again, the Ceylon Chamber.  Thank you all for being here today. This would not have been possible without your efforts.

Thanks to Joe as well for everything you have done to make this possible for us.  Wishing you good luck and success in the future.

Thank you.