Cases are referred to the Courthouse by the Lagos High Court.
The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, LMDC, said on Saturday that it successfully resolved a total of 780 cases out of the 1,708 referred to it within the last 10 years.
The Director of the centre, Caroline Etuk, disclosed this in an interview in Lagos.
Ms. Etuk said that most of the cases were referred to the court from the High Court of Lagos State, adding that the 780 cases were amicably settled.
“The cases we have settled during our annual Settlement Week since we started in 2002, ranges from breach of contract, landlord and tenant disputes, family matters as well as defamation. Generally, we handle the whole range of matters that we have on the litigation track. We had a lot of banking cases as well.
“We even had people coming in whose matters were not referred from court and they wanted to be part of the Settlement Week,” she said.
Ms. Etuk said the outcomes of the settlements were sent to the Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, judges who entered them as the judgment of the court. The director condemned the poor response of lawyers and litigants to ADR and attributed this as a reason for the low figure of cases handled by the court in the last 10 years.
She said that the introduction of mediation and arbitration into the legal process was aimed at reducing the number of civil cases in courts. According to her, embracing the ADR process saves time, is cost effective and also helps in maintaining cordial relationships between the parties in the dispute.
She, however, said that the introduction of ADR into the High Court of Lagos (Civil Procedures) Rules 2012 had made it mandatory for lawyers and litigants to embrace the system.
“Under the new rules, when a civil case is filed, it is taken to the ADR track and efforts are made to determine if the parties in the dispute can settle the matter out of court.
“It is only when the matter cannot be resolved that it is re-assigned to the litigation track and the case is taken before the court for hearing,” she explained.
She expressed the readiness of the court to handle cases that would be referred to it as a result of the new rules. According to her, the appointment of 10 ADR judges and the recent training of 58 mediators were clear indications of the commitment of the Lagos State Judiciary to promote ADR.
Ms. Etuk, therefore, urged lawyers to embrace ADR, stressing that it would help facilitate speedy dispensation of justice.
“That is where the world is moving now and we cannot afford to be left behind,” she said.
The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, LMDC, was established on June 11, 2002, as a public-private partnership between the High Court of Justice of Lagos State and the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group, a non-profit private organisation. The overarching objective of the LMDC is to facilitate dispute resolution within the Nigerian Justice System. It is the first court-connected Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre in Africa.
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