A Lagos High Court Judge, Justice Jumoke Pedro has urged lawyers to acquire training in mediation as part of efforts to decongest of the courts of cases and ensure swift resolution of cases for parties..
Addressing the fourth induction ceremony of the Associate Mediation Advocates in Nigeria organised by the Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates (SCMA) at the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse on Friday, Justice Pedro believes that mediation remains the most viable solution in decongesting the courts of the backlog of cases.
The mediation, which is a form of Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism used in resolving disputes, ensures speedy, inexpensive, confidential and amicable resolution of disputes.
“Once a case is brought to court, it takes a life of its own. There are procedures and there are delays, which has brought about dockets of cases in our courts.
“We have seen cases that lasted up to 24 years in court, hence, the Lagos State through the Chief Judge is looking for solutions to decongest the courts, and we have found out that mediation is the solution.
“I, therefore. advise lawyers to acquire training as mediation advocates and mediators to aid in resolving cases quickly especially cases which should not ordinarily come to court like family matters and some debt recovery cases,” Justice Pedro stressed.
Earlier, Mr Valentino Buoro, Associate Convenor of SCMA, said mediation advocates as strategic corps were key to the new global dispensation of justice devoid of inhibiting technicalities.
According to him, the journey to establishing mediation as the mainstream practice is ongoing.
Mr Buoro, however, expressed satisfaction that the judicial hierarchy in Nigeria had discovered the need for ADR to reduce unnecessary litigations in courts.
In that regard, he commended the Lagos State judiciary for launching a programme named, “Backlog Elimination Programme,” in which all cases that have been stagnated in judges’ dockets are to be taken out of court trial.
Mr. Buoro recalled that during the launch, the Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Opeyemi Oke, directed that, “any case that remains in trial after five years would be moved into ADR track to explore mediation or arbitration.”
The Convenor, however, advised that only lawyers who had been trained in ADR should be allowed to participate as advocates in such cases which were moved from courts to ADR for proper handling.
For his part, Mr Fola Alade, a mediation advocate, urged lawyers to actively promote mediation through social activities
“Though lawyers are bound by the ethics of the profession not to advertise their trade but when you constantly discuss a particular issue, it is assumed that you are an expert in that field,” he said.
Alade said lawyers also get paid while practicing mediation, adding that a mediation advocate must be honest in discharging his duties to build integrity.
Mrs Adeyinka Aroyewun, the Director Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, said every lawyer should be “an all-rounder” by acquiring mediation training in addition to his or her legal education.
“Every lawyer should acquire ADR training to know how to advise their clients on the options suitable for their cases,” she added.
By ADR Daily Newsdesk