Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Diana Asonaba Dapaah has urged lawyers to avoid interfering in mediation sessions in order to allow parties to own the process for successful dispute resolution.
“Lawyers should not interfere much in mediation. They should take the back seat and allow the parties to talk,” she stressed.
The key feature of mediation, she explained, is to allow disputants to have control over the mediation process and fashion out a settlement by themselves, adding that the involvement and interference of lawyers often do not help in ensuring an expeditious resolution.
“Mediation is not another day in court,” she reminded her colleague lawyers.
Addressing professional mediation trainees undergoing a week-long mediation course by the Mariam Conflict Resolution Centre (MCRC) in Accra on Thursday, Ms. Dapaah encouraged lawyers to prepare their clients to go for mediation sessions alone, rather than insisting to represent clients at mediation.
She was happy that more lawyers are now appreciating that their role at mediation, which involves educating their clients about mediation and allowing the clients to take the front seat.
The Deputy Minister, who is a seasoned ADR practitioner and trainer, also urged mediators to be firm in determining the ground rules and protocols concerning the presence of a lawyer at mediation, reminding mediators that they have the authority to excuse a lawyer whose presence and action is found inimical to the mediation.
She commended the trainees, who are professionals from various fields, for opting to become mediators, adding that the ADR industry needs more qualified practitioners to offer quality dispute resolution services.
Offering advice on how to enhance ADR, she urged mediators, in particular, to be conscious of drafting effective settlement agreements.
A poorly drafted settlement agreement, she said could create a dispute, as well as make enforcement difficult.
She lauded the progress of the ADR industry in Ghana and encouraged all stakeholders to continue to invest in expanding professional ADR practice across the country.