Rabbis run Arbitration Course

August 5, 2010 by Ari Morris
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The Rabbinical Council of Victoria has conducted a three day Rabbinical Arbitration Course, opened by Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls , who congratulated the RCV and the participating rabbis for being “champions of Alternative Dispute Resolution”.

Rob Hulls and Rabbi Meier Klugwant

The purpose of the Rabbinical Arbitration Course was to educate and train rabbis in the process of alternative dispute resolution. The course was designed to equip members of the Rabbinate with the ability to adjudicate in respect of civil and commercial cases, both in accordance with principles of Jewish law and in compliance with applicable legislation. As a result of such compliance with Victorian law, the decisions of rabbinic arbitrators can be upheld in secular courts.

Currently within the Victorian Jewish Community the sole religious-judicial body is the Melbourne Beth Din, which is limited to handling conversions and divorces. Accordingly, until now there has been no real opportunity for cases of a civil or commercial nature affecting members of the community to be heard and addressed within the community itself.

It is envisaged that this course will assist in the creation of an arbitration arm for the Melbourne Beth Din, which will provide members of the Jewish community with a dispute resolution option which will be more cost effective than and also provide some relief to the over-burdened secular court system.

Ian Waller and Jeffrey Appel

High level and impressive speakers addressed the rabbis during the course, including judges from the Federal Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of Victoria, as well as prominent barristers who are Queen’s Council and Senior Council. Seventeen members of the Rabbinate participated, including two of the senior judges of the Melbourne Beth Din.

The course was constructed by a team of rabbis and lawyers, including Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, Mr George Golvan QC, Mr Ian Waller SC and Mr Jeffrey Appel, and has been certified by The Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia, which is Australia’s largest and most experienced alternative dispute resolution organisation.

Commenting on the course, RCV President Rabbi Yaakov Glasman said that “the course marks a significant step forward in the RCV’s efforts to provide stronger and more effective leadership to our community and the RCV is pleased that both members of the RCV and of the broader Rabbinate – including from interstate – have embraced the opportunity to participate”.

“The course has equipped our community’s spiritual leaders with the proficiency to be able to respond professionally and expeditiously to matters of dispute as they may arise. It was an eye-opening forum in which civil law met halacha, and constituted part of the RCV’s ongoing Professional Development Project”, he said.

The Rabbinical Arbitration Course has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the generous support of the Besen Family Foundation. It is an outcome of the RCV’s 2008 Strategic Planning Project which itself was funded by the Office of the Premier.

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