The Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Sophia Akuffo has granted approval for the Commercial Courts to appoint external mediators to handle the pre-trial mediation of commercial cases.
It means that commercial courts would now have external professional mediators to facilitate the mandatory pre-trial (mediation) conferences to resolve commercial disputes.
Hitherto, the trial Judges chair the mandatory pre-trial mediation at the commercial courts, but the arrangement was found to be challenging since the Judges were overburdened and often do not have the skills and patience for the art of mediation.
The presence of a Judge at mediation, as well as the court house setting used for the pre-trial conference, is also considered to have a negative effect on the outcome.
A source at the Judicial Service told ADR Daily that the measure would now enable the commercial court Judges to fully concentrate on trial cases.
According to the source, the review of the commercial courts’ mandatory pre-trial conference to involve external mediators, demonstrates the commitment of the Judicial Service to actively engage ADR to enhance justice delivery.
“This will enable the Judges to concentrate on trials and giving judgement, rather than been overburdened with pre-trial conferences,” the source stressed.
The Chief Justice, launching the Judicial Service’s ADR Week on July 16, announced plans to outsource the pre-trial (mediation) conference to mediators to reduce the burden on Judges.
Analysts are optimistic that the outsourcing of the pre-trial mediation would help to achieve high settlement rate of commercial disputes.
Last April, the Chief Justice also announced plans to make mediation as a pre-condition for all civil suits filed at the courts across the country with the objective of using ADR to settle more disputes and also to significantly reduce the case load at the courts.
The Judicial Service’s Court-Connected ADR Programme, which has recorded an average of 49 per cent settlement rate over the past 10 years, has been extended to 107 district and circuit courts, attached with 590 trained mediators.
By Edmund Mingle/adrdaily.com