By Edmund Mingle
Claimants, in civil cases, go to court for varied reasons. Some initiate court litigation to seek compensation, retrieve property or money owed them, or to exercise one’s rights.
Others go to court to secure an apology from others, to punish others or show others “where power lies.”
But as the case drags due to the cumbersome nature of court processes and proceedings, the parties get weighed down with tiredness from climbing the conflict mountain which is characterised with acrimony, time wasting and high court and legal fees.
Although they continue to put up a brave face, deep inside they pray for the case to end. Some claimants, along the line, lose interest and wish they can call off the case.
There is one best way to get out of court even if you are at a matured stage of the case.
The only convenient way is by resorting to Mediation.
In Ghana, and like other jurisdictions, there very simple ways of opting out of court for mediation.
But before you opt out of court, acknowledge that the court cannot grant you your real interests in the case, and that there will be a winner or loser, and even if you win, you lose because you would have lost a lot of productive time, money and relationship.
You may not be aware but the process for opting out of court for mediation is one of the simplest court processes in Ghana.
And the steps are very much simple.
If you are represented by a lawyer, inform your lawyer of your wish for mediation. He/she would then inform the lawyer of the other party to discuss with his/her client.
If your lawyer or both lawyers do not agree, you can inform the Judge yourself. Remember the case is your case and not the lawyers’ case. Where you do not have the prior consent of the other party, the Judge would put the request across to the other party.
Also remember that opting for mediation does not imply you have a weak case. It only demonstrates your desire to have a much speedy, inexpensive confidential and amicable resolution that also offers a both-gain outcome and preserves your relationship with the other party.
Ghana’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Act 2010 (Act 798) empowers parties to opt for mediation at any point before the final judgement of the case.
Section 64 states that (1) A court before which an action is pending may at any stage in the proceedings, if it is of the view that mediation will facilitate the resolution of the matter or a part of the matter in dispute, refer the matter or that part of the matter to mediation.
(2) A party to an action before a court may, with the agreement of the other party and at any time before final judgment is given, apply to the court on notice to have the whole action or part of the action referred to mediation.”
Once there is consent from both parties, you inform the court of your chosen private mediator. Where you do not have a mediator, the court shall assign a court-connected mediator to your case.
The reference of your case to mediation serves a stay of proceedings (suspension) of the case in court to await the outcome of the mediation.
The mediation proceedings commences once the case is submitted to mediation, and both parties and the mediator agree on the modalities. Cases at mediation are resolved within the shortest possible time.
Some cases that have stayed in court for over five three years have been resolved in less than a week.
The settlement agreement is then filed with the court which adopts it as its consent judgement that is binding on both parties.
That is the end of the case.
If you still need help, speak to a mediation practitioner.
Authors email: firstname.lastname@example.org