The Judicial Service is considering making Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) a mandatory precursor to every civil trial, the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo, has hinted.
ADR is basically a traditional form of resolving disputes without resorting to the law court and includes methods such as arbitration, negotiation and mediation, which complement the justice system.
Justice Akuffo said consideration for ADR was founded on some experiments conducted by the Judicial Service which had proven to be very effective and complementary to the mechanism of justice.
The Chief Justice was speaking at the launch of the Gamey and Co ADR Centre in Accra yesterday. According to her, the experiment conducted included the introduction of ADR programmes in court-connected cases in 2005 in about 60 lower courts; a pilot programme to see how ADR could be mainstreamed or institutionalised in the judicial system.
The dignitaries and guests after the launch. Picture: EMMANUEL ASAMOAH ADDAI
The Gamey and Co ADR Centre is a subsidiary of the Gamey and Gamey Group, a training and consultancy company with a focus on ADR, industrial relations and human resources management, among others.
The centre will provide ADR services tailored to meet the needs of clients, and provide employment opportunities for ADR practitioners.
Justice Akuffo said when ADR was used in resolving civil disputes, the courts could then concentrate on delivering quality and timely judgements on issues of rights, criminality and constitutionalism without judges feeling pressured by time and other factors but would rather have enough time to do research and deliver better judgements.
“ADR will be proposed to the Rules of Court Committee to make provisions in the rules of the various courts to demand evidence that parties have first tried ADR before hearing the matter. This should lead to a widespread use of ADR and promote rapprochement,” she said.
Highlighting the critical contributions of ADR, she noted that it had been an effective tool for conflict resolution in many sectors, such as sports, mining, labour, business, oil and gas and chieftaincy.
“The history of ADR mechanisms points to the desire of disputing parties to adopt a more
friendly and convenient approach to resolving their disputes amicably,” she stated.
She expressed the hope that the Gamey and Co ADR centre would give disputing parties the convenience they desired and guarantee them certain basic expectations such as integrity, confidentiality, absence of conflict of interest, impartiality, ease of use and affordability.
“Sections 72 and 73 of the Court Act, 1993, (Act 459), encourage the use of ADR to resolve disputes pending before the court and in appreciating the benefits of ADR in processes of resolving disputes and settlement of cases. Ghana passed the ADR Act, 2010 ( Act 798) to that effect,” she said.
The Chairman of Gamey and Co ADR Centre, Mr Austin Gamey, noted that the centre was going to deliver appropriate ADR services to the public because its establishment was based on a scan of the Ghanaian dispute resolution landscape.
He said the centre was ready to ensure that effective dispute resolution mechanisms were easily accessible to people who needed them to resolve their disputes without the minimum grief associated with the traditional court system.
“The centre is out to fully explore the immense potential of ADR as a means of addressing dispute resolution needs in society, in business and other endeavours. We believe there is a need to create the platform for parties to resolve their disagreements with ease,” he pointed out.
The Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Bright Wereko-Brobbey, spoke about the immense contribution of ADR to settling disagreements amicably and in a mutually acceptable manner in the labour sector.
He said the peaceful industrial and labour front the country was experiencing could be largely attributed to the use of ADR principles in the sector’s tripartite deliberations and negotiations.
He added that the establishment of the centre by a private actor was a boost to the judicial sector’s contribution to socio-economic development.
“Often, focus is mainly on productive activities. It is, therefore, very encouraging that we are witnessing the involvement of a private partner in another aspect of social development,” he said.