An Appeal Court Judge, Justice Irene Charity Larbi, has refuted claims that lawyers who advised their clients to seek for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in adjudication of cases lacked the capacity to argue in court.
She has, therefore, appealed to lawyers and the general public to consider exploring ADR in adjudication of cases in order to help reduce the back lock of cases that were pile up in the court and fast adjudication of cases.
The outgoing Appeal Court Judge said this during an open forum at the launch of the ADR week in Sunyani yesterday.
The official launch of the ADR Week was performed by Justice Angelina Mensah-Homiah, an Appeal Court Judge in-charge of Court Connected ADR (CCADR) programme who replaced the outgoing Appeal Court Judge.
She extolled the immense benefits of resolving issues through ADR as against the traditional court system.
According to her, the alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) programme started in 2005, currently covered 132 courts across the country with plans to expand it further to ensure that every Ghanaian had easy access to the programme.
A total of 635 mediators had already been trained and assigned to these 132 courts connected to the ADR programme.
“The CCADR is very effective and guarantees the interest of both parties. The parties are involved in every aspect of the process. Unlike normal courtroom proceedings, ADR processes allow for smaller sessions and participation is limited to the parties. Said differently, only the primary parties and their lawyers are permitted to be present,” she explained.
Justice Mensah-Homiah said the ADR concept had served as a complement to the traditional court system in making access to justice cheaper, easier, expeditious, non-adversarial and faster.
“Other extrinsic factors in implementing court connected ADR are: relational justifications, social considerations and process considerations. Disputes are settled without damaging existing social and/or business relations, e.g., family and commercial disputes. The process is also not antagonistic like the adversarial system,” she further explained.
According to her, CCADR had also helped in reducing the backlog of cases in the courts substantially due to the mass mediation exercise.
This, she noted, was an indication that the ADR mechanism was a reliable partner to the traditional justice delivery system, and must therefore be embraced and nurtured for quality justice delivery.
The ADR refers to a range of procedures that serve as alternatives to traditional litigation for the resolution of disputes and generally involves the assistance of a neutral and impartial third party.
The Court-Connected ADR involves the various methods of resolving disputes that are available to the court other than court trial processes such negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, customary arbitration, mediation-arbitration and neutral case evaluation.
The theme for this year’s ADR Week programme is “improving access to justice in a post-pandemic, through the use of ADR.”
FROM DANIEL DZIRASAH, SUNYANI