Judges in Nigeria have been urged to encourage Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms, ADR in cases that are less contentious as part of efforts to decongest the country’s case files.
Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, represented by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola gave the charge at the commissioning of the Court of Appeal Mediation Centre in Abuja, Nigeria.
Justice Onnoghen added that one of the advantages of the ADR was to reduce the cost of traditional litigation to the parties involved.
The CJN also said that Nigeria has been consistent in adopting ADR as an integral part of the justice delivery architecture in the country’s legal system hence, called on Heads of Court to make Practice Direction which would dissuade litigants who doesnt explore the arbitration clause in the contracts first.
“I therefore caution the Management of the Court of Appeal Mediation Centre to ensure that they develop a robust, fair and impartial system in the selection process while ensuring that appropriate cases are referred to it for determination.”
In her remark, the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa stated that there was the need to set up an Appeal Court Mediation Centre to equip judges with the requisite skills.
She said it would enable them grapple with the escalating commercial dispute resulting from growth in business activities and increased in international trade which was leading to breakdown of relationships.
Justice Bulkachuwa said it was a welcome development that mediation was becoming a viable option when compared to litigation in settling commercial, civil and family dispute within a short time with minimal cost.