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Expert advises legal practitioners to explore Alternative Dispute Resolution



The Register, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators  (ICMC), Mr Segun Ogunyannwo, has advised legal practitioners to explore the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as the cheapest and fastest way of resolving dispute.

Ogunyannwo gave the advice on Wednesday in Jos in a paper presentation at the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Jos Branch  2019 Law Week.

The registrar said that the focus of the paper was on the role lawyers could play in mediation in a Multidoor  Court House.

ADR that uses Multidoor Court House can provide enhanced, cost effective and user friendly access to justice.

“Lawyers may be gatekeepers in justice delivery system.

“When people get issues, they go to lawyers, when the lawyers are ADR compliant, it becomes easier for them to advise their clients to also explore the ADR option,” he said.

He said that the Rules of Conduct of Professional Lawyers 2007, clearly and specifically stated that a lawyer shall not fail or neglect to inform his clients of options including ADR before resorting to litigation on behalf of his client.

According to him, the provision adds that if a lawyer acts in contravention of any of the rules, or fails to perform any of the duties stated by the rules, he/she shall be guilty of professional misconduct.

Ogunyannwo further said those lawyers that failed to explore the option were also liable to punishment as provided for in the Legal Professional  Act 1975.

“Lawyers that are ADR compliant can add a lot of value to justice delivery system in Nigeria.

“Lawyers can tell their clients that there are ways that are faster,  that can preserve relationships.

“Lawyers play two roles in the ADR by first advising the client to use the option and also advising the client on who the mediator should be.

 “They can also be part of the mediation as neutrals,” he said.

Mr Akinropo Omoware, Senior Advisor, Trade Policy and Environmental Evaluation of GIZ, sponsors of the lecture for the Law Week said that ADR was not new in Nigeria.

Omware said that ADR as a way of resolving disputes using a third party or the parties themselves was and is still practiced by traditional rulers and some Churches.

The only difference according to him, is that more formal institutions like the courts, the ministries of justice were integrating ADR as part of formal justice system.

“We don’t think that anybody including lawyers should be agitated about it because it something that has come to promote the justice system.

“For us at GIZ, we are supporting the Plateau Government in the area of promoting investment, creating enabling environment for business to thrive.

“And one of the things investors would want to see is that you have system where disputes are resolved between parties amicably.

“The state has set up a Multidoor Court House and we are working with them to train people that will serve as neutrals.

“Today we felt there was need to talk to lawyers about ADR  on how we can promote justice system especially for commercial disputes,” he said.

Mr Yakubu Bawa, Chairman, NBA Jos Branch, said that ADR was important option of dispute resolution that took into consideration mediation, conciliation, arbitration and other options.

“In fact, the establishment of Plateau Multidoor Court which I am a member as NBA Chairman, a law has been established and we are trying to come up with the rules of the court.

“What we explained to lawyers is the that there is also a charge scale that would be attached to rules may be per hour or per session.

“We always told them to look at it from the perspective that lawyers are created to promote peace and advance the course of justice,” Bawa said.

The NBA chairman lauded GIZ for bringing ICMC to give the lawyers training and for agreeing to train and certify lawyers in the branch for just 50 per cent  of the fees.

He said that several issues were looked at during the week that had it theme as: “Efficacy of the Constitution in the Face of the Current Realities’.

He said that there was need to look at the country’s governance architecture to see which would be best for the country.

According to the chairman, the week also looked at the relationship between the Bar and the Bench that would promote justice delivery in the country.

Edited & Vetted By: Abdullahi Yusuf

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