New Delhi: Bringing financial relief to the public or rather complainants in consumer cases, from now on, disputed parties need not pay the full fee of the mediator for resolution of their cases. Instead, the mediator’s fees for court cases under the Consumer Protection Act 2019 would be paid from the corpus of the Consumer Welfare Fund.
A mediator is a neutral and impartial person who facilitates the process of negotiation between the disputed parties. Recently, the Consumer Welfare Fund Guidelines have been amended and according to Section IV of the updated guidelines, legal expenses incurred by a complainant or complainants in a consumer dispute will be reimbursed to them after its final settlement.
The amount involved in the dispute or the fee of the mediator as set by the president of the commission, or the mediation fees prescribed and capped at the District and State Commission - whichever of the three is the less, would be paid to the mediator, from the interest accrued on the Consumer Welfare (Corpus) Fund. This fund has been established with co-contribution from the state and the department of Consumer Affairs.
For successful mediation, the fee amount is Rs 3,000 in the District Commission and Rs 5,000 in the State Commission while the amount is Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 for failed mediation in the District Commission and State Commission respectively.
This amendment was necessary because the department observed that a substantial number of cases were not resolved through mediation. The department discussed this issue with various stakeholders and found that the main reason for unsatisfactory results in the redressal of cases through mediation was due to non-payment of fees of the mediator.
The parties involved in the dispute are reluctant to pay the fees of the mediator, which results in unsuccessful conduct of the mediation process. To resolve this issue, the department decided to pay the fees of the empanelled mediator from the corpus of the Consumer Welfare Fund.
Most of the Consumer Commissions have set up Mediation Cells and have also got empanelled mediators. Currently, there are 247 mediators empanelled in the State Commissions and 1,387 mediators in the District Consumer Commissions across India.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 for speedy, hassle-free and inexpensive redressal of consumer complaints has provided the provision of settlement of consumer disputes through Mediation under Chapter V.