Multi-Door Courthouse Advocates Award of SAN for ADR Lawyers
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