Increased rates of divorce, general dissatisfaction with the procedural aspects of the law and the ineffectiveness of the provisions intended to encourage reconciliation, resulted in the introduction of an alternative mechanism for helping parties in dispute to deal with the consequences of their family disputes This alternative mechanism is known as family mediation or sulh in Islamic law. Mediation or sulh emphasised on amicable resolution of dispute which uphold the approach of win-win situation.
The present study aims to determine firstly, the relationships between demographic characteristics of users of sulh and satisfaction with sulh and secondly, the difference in satisfaction with sulh between male and female users. Respondents of this study comprised of users of sulh in the Selangor Syariah Courts, selected by using purposive sampling technique from the sulh case files in the chosen courts. The chosen courts represent the geographical zones in Selangor: the Lower Syariah Court of Sabak Bernam, Lower Syariah Court of Kuala Selangor, Lower Syariah Court of Sepang, Lower Syariah Court of Bandaraya Shah Alam and Lower Syariah Court of Hulu Langat. A total of 250 questionnaires were distributed via mail to the respondents. Each questionnaire was prefaced with a cover letter explaining the objective of the survey and emphasised the confidentiality of responses and the voluntary nature of the respondent. Self-addressed envelopes were provided to each respondent for returning completed surveys. Reminder postcards were sent to the entire sample one month after the survey questionnaires were sent. A total of 128 questionnaires were received back by the reseacher, garnering a response rate of 51.2 percent. According to Babbie (1990) and Hager (2003), a return of 50 per cent from mailed questionnaire is adequate as a mean of minimising non-response bias.
The results revealed that there were no relationships between demographic characteristics and satisfaction with sulh. Majority (87 percent) of the respondents reported that they were highly satisfied with sulh even though, not all disputes managed to be resolved. Furthermore, male respondents were found to exhibit a higher level of satisfaction compared to female respondents. Findings imply that sulh is a very viable alternative dispute resolution mechanism in the Syariah Courts where disputes managed to be resolved amicably.
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