The mechanisms of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Nigeria’s judicial or legal system can be more relevant in reduction of courtroom congestion that has prevented expedition of natural justice, equity and fairness in our society. In the words of then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, “the workload of the courts, noting that while 163 cases ( 78 judgements and 85 motions) were disposed of within the 2010-2011 legal year by the Supreme Court, there remained a staggering caseload of 1,149 civil appeals, 58 criminal appeals and 117 motions”. Based on this assertion, the ADR mechanisms is stirred up to expedite justice, equity and fairness in our commercial/ business sectors of the society just like other developed countries even, among some Africa countries today.
This can uplift our legal system when litigation lawyers encourage their client(s) to utilize any of these mechanisms in resolving business/ commercial disputes that might arise during or after contract rather than litigation. It is once said by the Chief Judge of River State, during the celebration of new legal year 2023 in the State that, Lawyers discourage their client(s) from using the ADR Multidoor courthouse and this has made the ADR mechanisms irrelevant today. He went further to plead with the litigation lawyers to encourage their client(s) to use the ADR system.
In ensuring the relevance of ADR mechanisms in our legal system, various Courts have encouraged all litigation lawyers to use the ADR system by making provisions in their various Courts (Civil Procedural Rules), for instance, Rule 1c of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rule 2012 reiterates an “amicable resolution of disputes by use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism” and many other commercial organizations like Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) etc and also ensure that, whenever litigation lawyers brought matters ought to be resolve through ADR, the court refer such matter(s) to the Multipurpose courtroom door or Multidoor courthouse for settlement between disputant parties which can be in form of AN AGREEMENT or AN AWARD. For example, the preamble to the High Court of Lagos State ( Civil Procedure) Rules 2012 empowers the Lagos State High Court to mandate parties in dispute to use ADR mechanisms or other dispute resolution options, to resolve their where court considers it appropriate to use such.
The ADR mechanisms will be relevant in our society, if our litigation lawyers ensure that, their client(s) have confidence in the process by accepting the outcome of the arbitral tribunal and the enforcement of agreement or award; increase the knowledge and awareness of their client(s) about the relevance of the ADR mechanisms; the creation of courts which will entertain and expedite matters from the arbitral tribunal and the quick passage of the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulatory Commission Bill 2011.
Written by S. I Adeshina, ACArb
A Pleader, Arbitrator, Human Rights Activist, Socialist, Writer and Political Analyst
Abdulsalam O. A. Alternative Dispute Resolution & Arbitration in Nigeria: law, theory and practical: Princeton Publisher 2017
Lagos State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rule 2012