Justice Irene Charity Larbi, a Justice of the Appeals Court, says Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has come to stay to ensure that justice is served expeditiously and at a relatively cheaper cost.
She said, Order 1 Rule 1(2) of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2004 provided that, “These rules shall be interpreted and applied so as to achieve speedy and effective justice, avoid delays, and ensure that as far as possible, all matters in dispute between parties may be completely, effectively and finally determined and the multiplicity of proceedings concerning any of such matters avoided.”
Justice Larbi, who is the Judge -in charge of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), said this at the 2021 opening ceremony of the ADR week celebration, held at the Ada District Court.
The event was on the theme: “Making our court's user friendly through the use of ADR,” and sought to sensitise the residents of Ada on the importance of the ADR.
She said the courts could be said to be friendly, when the adjudication process offered all the provisions in Order 1, Rule 1(2) of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004.
Justice Larbi said the process, which was a core component in the judicial service helped the court to decongest and that disputants who had experienced the ADR process would testify to its expeditious resolutions of cases at a cheaper cost.
Justice Larbi said ADR, which was free for all, was optional for parties at the pre- trial settlement stage and that the case would be sent back to court to report on the resolution process through the ADR, stating that, it was unethical for a lawyer to discourage clients from accessing the process.
She stated that the importance of the process over conventional litigation included; the privacy of parties involved where the media could not publish their issues thereby making them objects of public ridicule.
Another advantage of ADR, she said was helping parties to willingly comply with agreements reached after the process.
“People who design solutions to their conflicts are more satisfied with the outcome than people who leave the resolution of their disputes in the hands of another person or authority,” the Appeals Court Judge said.
She said the process provided healthy methods of resolving disputes, and supported the positive maintenance of relationship of parties, and taught them, new ways to communicate and resolve future conflicts.
Lawyers also benefitted from the process since their clients were likely to be satisfied because they had recommended them to appropriate and cost effective option in resolving disputes, hence lawyers get recommended to other clients.
ADR, she said was instituted in 2005 by the Judicial Service as an intervention to ease pressure on the regular court system and to create a platform that would offer disputants the opportunity to play a key role in resolving their disputes.
Justice Larbi noted that the process had been extended to all courts, especially the magistrate courts, where judges and mediators had received mandatory training, certificated and regulated under the Judicial Service.
She explained that, the ADR concept had served as a complement to the traditional court system, making access to justice cheaper, easier, expeditious, non-adversarial and faster for the citizenry.
Justice Larbi stated that currently, the ADR process had been extended to 131 courts nationwide with a total of 635 mediators, at least five assigned to each of the courts, and that Regional ADR Secretariats had been established in ten regions.
From January to December, 2020, a total of 5, 455 cases were mediated out of, which 2,312 were settled, representing a 42 per cent settlement rate.
She appealed to the citizenry to embrace the ADR fora quality justice delivery system devoid of long, drawn out processes that led to frustration of parties in a dispute.
Present at the opening were Her Ladyship Elizabeth Ankomah, Supervising High Court Judge, Tema, His Worship Narh Awal, Magistrate of Sege District Court and Relieving Magistrate for Ada Magistrate Court, and Nene Agudey Obichere III, Ada Mankrado representing the Paramount Chief of Ada.
The rest were: Nene Dotse Hodoklamah Sabbah Agbo III, magistrates, mediators and court users in the town.