President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his address at the 2023 Commercial Mediation Symposium at Colombo’s Hilton Hotel, emphasised the need for a cultural shift towards efficient dispute resolution in Sri Lanka.

He acknowledged the long-standing reliance on trial courts and stressed the importance of embracing alternate dispute resolution methods.

Highlighting the government’s commitment, he mentioned the establishment of the Alternate Dispute Resolution Centre in 2018 and expressed support for its continued growth. President Wickremesinghe urged the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Investments to collaborate on

supporting these initiatives.

“Alternate dispute resolution and arbitration both have a long way to travel in Sri Lanka, and that’s our problem. We have to first find ways to adjust to this process. You need a change of culture. Change of culture where disputes can be resolved in the shortest possible


Which means we are in a way wedded to the old concept of the trial court? Whether we have a domestic inquiry or not, we all want to follow the same procedure. I don’t know why. But nevertheless, this is one of the challenges that we have to face.”


He emphasised that success in dispute resolution was crucial for Sri Lanka’s aspirations to be an outward-looking economy. The President mentioned forthcoming legislation to transform

the Port City as the Colombo financial zone and the transition from the BOI to the Economic Commission, both aimed at resolving disputes efficiently.


President Wickremesinghe also underscored the significance of international trade agreements and the need for Sri Lanka to become a centre for alternate dispute resolution. He urged legal professionals to look beyond Sri Lanka’s borders and specialise in emerging

fields like AI, blockchain, and green energy to secure the nation’s competitive future.


“Now we want Sri Lanka to be a center. One is the new legislation, which will replace the

port city to make it a Colombo financial zone with jurisdiction for offshore activity.


The new law has been drafted. And we will see the light of day before the end of the year. Secondly,

The BOI will be replaced with the Economic Commission. Which is also looking at the

resolution of disputes. We will be entering into a number of free trade agreements. We have got

one with Singapore. We are about to finalise one with Thailand. We are discussing this with India.

of upgrading the agreement. Talking with Bangladesh. And more than that, we are moving to

join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).