Multi-Door Court­house Ad­vo­cates Award of SAN for ADR Lawyers

THISDAY - - LAWYER -

The Chair­man, Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil of the La­gos Multi-Door Court­house (LMDC), Jus­tice Adesuyi Olateru-Olag­begi has called on the Na­tional Ju­di­cial Coun­cil (NJC), to give recog­ni­tion to lawyers who have par­tic­i­pated in Al­ter­na­tive Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion (ADR) as me­di­a­tion coun­sel, by con­fer­ring on them the rank of Se­nior Ad­vo­cate of Nige­ria (SAN) like their coun­ter­parts in core lit­i­ga­tion.

Olateru-Olag­begi, a re­tired judge of the La­gos High Court, made this sug­ges­tion at a news con­fer­ence to cel­e­brate La­gos State at 50, as well to mark 15 years of the LMDC.

He urged the NJC to make ap­pro­pri­ate amend­ments to the re­quire­ment for the con­fer­ment of the rank, adding that such recog­ni­tion would en­cour­age more lawyers to par­tic­i­pate in ADR.

Olateru-Olag­begi also urged the NJC to re­spect­fully give recog­ni­tion to con­sent judg­ments ob­tained through ADR mech­a­nism, and make ap­pro­pri­ate amend­ments to the reg­u­la­tions guid­ing the Quar­terly Re­turns of Judges Per­for­mance Eval­u­a­tion.

The LMDC Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil Chair­man called on all courts, lawyers and in­deed, the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion (NBA), to unite in pro­gres­sively ad­vanc­ing the course of ADR in the res­o­lu­tion of dis­putes in Nige­ria.

While urg­ing lit­i­gants to utilise ADR tech­niques in the set­tle­ment of dis­putes across the State, he said the multi-door court­house con­cept, is a rev­o­lu­tion­ary jus­tice re­form ini­tia­tive, which trans­forms the mono-lit­i­ga­tion door of the court­house into a multi-door pro­gramme.

He said that if law courts re­fer all cases that are amenable to ADR to ADR Cen­tres like LMDC, the courts would have more man­age­able dock­ets.

“An as­tro­nom­i­cal num­ber of cases with in­creas­ing com­plex­i­ties are filed daily in our law courts at both first in­stance and ap­pel­late lev­els, im­pos­ing a mon­u­men­tal bur­den and pres­sure on our ju­di­cial sys­tem, which, if not well-man­aged is ca­pa­ble of grind­ing the whole sys­tem to a halt. In the La­gos State Ju­di­ciary for ex­am­ple, 7,063 cases were filed in the year 2015 and 7,182 in the year 2016.

“Else­where in the world, a sim­i­lar state of af­fairs in the courts led their le­gal com­mu­ni­ties to whole­heart­edly em­brace ADR mech­a­nisms, as a sup­ple­men­tary way of re­solv­ing dis­putes. But in Nige­ria, our dis­po­si­tion to adop­tion of ADR mech­a­nisms in the res­o­lu­tion of dis­putes, is slug­gish, hes­i­tant and some­times lack­ing in good faith; that is why Ar­bi­trated Awards are oc­ca­sion­ally chal­lenged in the law courts and in a few me­di­ated cases, par­ties at­tempt to re­nege on their agree­ments.

“If our law courts re­fer all cases that are amenable to ADR to ADR Cen­tres like LMDC, our courts will have a more man­age­able dock­ets”, he stated.

He said the LMDC was founded on June 11, 2002, with a task of pro­mot­ing al­ter­na­tive set­tle­ment of dis­putes in the State, adding that part of its ADR tech­niques in­clude Ar­bi­tra­tion, Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ne­go­ti­a­tion, Early Neu­tral Eval­u­a­tion and Hy­brid pro­cesses.

Ac­cord­ing to him, dis­putants, un­der the pro­gramme, are of­fered an ar­ray of dis­pute res­o­lu­tion op­tions to ex­plore, and in this way, ev­ery dis­pute is fit­ted into the mould that is most ap­pro­pri­ate for it’s res­o­lu­tion.

He said La­gos State was unrivalled in blaz­ing the trail of ex­cel­lence in ev­ery field of en­deav­our, and con­tin­ued to be a model for other states of the Fed­er­a­tion.

Olateru-Olag­begi said the enor­mous ben­e­fits of the con­cept are that it en­hances ac­cess to Jus­tice within the court sys­tem and pro­vides con­sumers of jus­tice with a cost ef­fec­tive and sat­is­fac­tory al­ter­na­tives to lit­i­ga­tion.

He noted that the LMDC had grown from its days of in­fancy, into a full-fledged ADR ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tion over the past 15 years, and had be­come a game changer in the dis­pute res­o­lu­tion in­dus­try.

The Chair­man said that the La­gos Set­tle­ment Week, which was in­tro­duced in 2009, was set aside by the Chief Judge of La­gos State, to clear the back­log of cases through means which in­clude re­fer­ral to the LMDC.

Mrs. Caro­line Etuk, Direc­tor, LMDC also urged the gen­eral pub­lic to make very good use of the La­gos State Set­tle­ment Week, which started yes­ter­day, June 5 till June 9, for the set­tle­ment of var­i­ous amenable dis­putes, in­stead of the long wait through lit­i­ga­tion.

L-R: Hon. Jus­tice Ade­dayo Oye­banji, Mem­ber, La­gos Multi-Door Court­house (LMDC) Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil, Jus­tice Adesuyi Olateru-Olag­begi, Chair­man, and Hon. Jus­tice Kunbi Oye­feso, Vice Chair­man, at the Press Con­fer­ence in com­mem­o­ra­tion of LMDC @ 15 and La­gos State @ 50 in La­gos

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