In 2016, a total of 1,373 cases were mediated through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process, out of which 605 cases were settled, representing 44 percent.
Currently, the ADR programme has been extended to 67 district and circuit courts across the country, with at least three mediators assigned to each of these courts.
Mrs. Irene Charity Larbie, the Judge in charge of the ADR Programme, speaking at a press conference to launch this year’s ADR Week celebration, 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.
The week was set aside to use the ADR to resolve cases pending in courts that were connected to the programme, and also to create mass public awareness in order to educate the citizenry on the use of the programme.
She said this had also helped in reducing the backlog of cases in the courts substantially due to the mass mediation exercise.
She said with the realization that land related cases had become dominant in the courts, the Judicial Service, in collaboration with the Land Administration Project, had trained 30 surveyors to be used as mediators on pilot bases to reduce the backlog of the cases in the land courts in the Greater Accra Region.
“A total of 295 mediators have been trained and assigned to these 67 courts connect to the ADR programme,” she said.
The Appeals Court said it clearly indicated that the ADR mechanism was a reliable partner to the traditional justice delivery system and must, therefore, be embraced and nurtured for an efficient delivery system.
Giving the background to the programme, the Judge in Charge said the ADR was piloted in some selected Districts courts in Accra and Tema between 2005 and 2007 with encouraging results.
She said the vision of the Chief Justice was to expand the court-connected ADR programme to all courts nationwide.
In pursuit of that vision, a policy directive dated June 26, 2009 established a separate National ADR Directorate to coordinate all ADR activities within the Judicial Service.
Mrs Larbie said to ensure uniformity in the practice of the ADR programme, an ADR uniform practice manual was launched in 2007 to guide practitioners which were subsequently reviewed to be in tune with the new ADR Act, 2010 (Act 798).
She said the court-connected ADR was very effective and guaranteed the interest of both parties adding that the court, at any stage of proceedings, could refer a matter to ADR and any of the parties could also request for ADR during the trial.
“The process being optional, the consent of the parties is sought before the matter is referred,” she said.