Justice Sophia Akuffo, the Chief Justice has announced plans by the Judicial Service to make Alternative (Appropriate) Dispute Resolution (ADR) mandatory in the judicial system.
“We are considering making ADR mandatory for all civil disputes before they come for trial,” she said.
Announcing the move when she launched the Gamey and Co ADR Centre in Accra today, she said “it will be proposed to the Rules of Court Committee to make provision in the rules of the various courts to demand evidence that parties have first tried ADR before hearing the matter.”
“This should lead to widespread use of ADR and promote rapprochement,” she added.
The announcement comes in the wake of an increasing campaign for mass adoption of ADR mechanisms in Ghana, particularly mediation and arbitration which guarantees an amicable, convenient, inexpensive and speedy settlement of disputes, compared to the adversarial, costly and lengthy litigation in the court system
According to the Chief Justice, when parties begin to use ADR to resolve their civil disputes, then the courts can concentrate on delivering quality judgments on issues of rights, criminality and constitutionalism.
“The judges will not feel pressured by time and other factors and will be afforded more time to deliver decisions after having adequate research and developing enough familiarity with a case,” she said.
In that regard, she urged lawyers to actively encourage their clients to choose ADR as a more flexible mechanism for the settlement of disputes.
“Private legal practitioners and in-house counsels, transactional advisors and consultants should encourage their clients to choose the various ADR mechanisms in resolving their disputes,” she said.
Also, she said there was also the need for parties to incorporate ADR mechanisms in their dispute resolution clauses in contract documents.”
Citing the benefits of the Judiciary Service’s Court-Connected ADR programme and the mandatory pre-trial (mediation) conference at the Commercial Courts, Justice Akuffo noted that the mechanism has been helpful in dealing with cases that would have otherwise clogged the courts.
She extolled the establishment of Gamey and Co ADR Centre, trusting that it would offer enhanced access to quality ADR services.
“The establishment of the Gamey and Co ADR Centre is an important landmark which investors and business people will hopefully consider in their assessment of the investment business climate in Ghana. The availability and ease of dispute resolution mechanisms as an indicator of a healthy and competitive investment business climate will be greatly enhanced by the establishment of this Centre,” she said.
In that regard, she encouraged the Gamey and Co ADR Centre to pursue excellence, grit, fair play and maintain a very friendly ambiance in serving the dispute resolution needs of disputing parties.
The Centre located at Dzorwulu in Accra is aimed at promoting the growth of the ADR industry in Ghana.
As part of its operations, it would host a Roster of experienced ADR practitioners and retired judges to offer ADR services that would save people from the repercussions of litigation at the courts.
Mr Austin Gamey, Chairman of the Centre, in his welcome address, said there are many sectors and fields that can be best served by ADR.
“Ours is a take that bold step to permeate those sectors and deliver dispute resolution systems that work best for them.
“What we have designed is a system that we believe is self-corrective and robust. We understand the challenges posed in the practice of ADR. We understand the enormity of the task we have given ourselves, but we are up to the task,” he said.
Mr Bright Wireko-Brobby, the Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, in his remarks, lauded the establishment of the Centre, saying it would contribute significantly in providing a platform for the resolution of labour disputes.
“With the experience of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations in the use of ADR, we are confident that parties will be best served when they adopt ADR mechanisms of mediation and arbitrations in negotiations and dispute resolution cases,” he said.
By Nii Adotey/adrdaily.com