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Jun 16, 2017

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) sector is set for advancement as the incoming Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo has declared her commitment to offering active attention to the growth of ADR practice.

According to her, it was time to expand the use of ADR mechanisms in resolving disputes and conflicts, without burdening the courts.

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Although ADR practice is growing at a slower pace in the country, Justice Akuffo believes it was time to expand and entrench the ADR practice for the benefit of Ghanaians.

“The fires are going to be stoked again,” she said.

Answering questions about ADR during her vetting in Parliament today, Justice Akuffo said one of the first things she would do when she takes office is to assess the ADR sector to see how to pursue its advancement.

Also, she plans to revive ADR week concept to help in awareness creation, adding that “ADR is an important feature in justice delivery.”

Justice Akuffo, who led the development of the Court-Connected ADR system in Ghana in 2001, said ADR remains central in the adjudication system and would be used to make the huge backlog of cases in the courts.

She lauded the increasing number of lawyers, especially in the private sector, practicing ADR, saying it helps in building a strong professional human resource base for the progress of the practice in the country.

“Whether the practice is in the private or public sector, it encourages people to use other means other than winner-takes-all litigation,” she said.

When approved by Parliament, Justice Sophia Akuffo will take over from immediate past Chief Justice Justice Georgina T. Wood who retired this month.

Analysts are optimistic the new CJ would pursue outstanding reforms in the judicial system, and especially offer an impetus for the promotion on ADR in the court system.

As the chairperson of the National ADR Task Force that held national consultations and designed the Court-Connected ADR Programme, analysts are optimistic that she would bring a lot to bear in further promoting the programme that is found to be productive in reducing the burden on the courts.

The outgone Chief Justice, in 2001 set up a Task Force chaired by the incoming Chief Justice, to determine the appropriate and customised policy direction that incorporates ADR in the court-adjudicated process.

Based on the recommendations of the Task Force, Chief Justice Wood issued a policy directive adopting and incorporating the Court-Connected ADR as a core component of the justice delivery system in Ghana as an option to parties whose cases are pending in the courts.

The programme was piloted in selected District Courts in Accra and Tema between 2005 and 2007, with encouraging results, and an ADR Practice Manual was launched to guide practitioners and later reviewed to be in tune with the ADR Act.

In line with the ADR Act, 2010 (Act 798), the Court-Connected ADR Programme has been extended to 67 districts and circuit courts across the country, with at least three mediators assigned to each of these courts.

Last year, a total of 1,373 cases, in general, were mediated through the ADR process, out of which 605 cases were settled, representing 44 percent, under the national Court-Connected ADR Programme.

By: Samuel Mingle/adrdaily.com

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ADR Daily is a specialized news portal with a focus on providing authentic news, information and research analysis on Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR), Human Resource Management (HRM) and Industrial Relations Management (IRM) in Ghana and beyond. This platform serves as an information resource base for the progress of the ADR, HRM and IRM industries, and seeks to promote professionalism in ADR practice by supporting a network of ADR professionals within and across nations and continents. ADR Daily keenly encourages the mass adoption of ADR mechanisms, particularly negotiation, mediation and arbitration for the resolution of disputes in all spheres, through the publication of industry news and information, as well as by deploying innovative awareness creation engagements.