To strengthen the justice system and resolve conflicts in the country, the Judicial Service has adopted an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to provide a healthier method for resolving disputes without resorting to litigation in the courts.
The ADR would also serve as a complement to the traditional court system, in which chiefs and queen mothers are in charge of, to make justice cheaper, non-adversarial, easier and faster for the citizenry.
READ ALSO: Ho Regional Model school gets a new borehole
Addressing Court Officials, at the launch of Alternative Dispute Resolution, Justice of the Court of Appeal and Judge-in-Charge of ADR, Her Ladyship, Justice Irene Charity Larbi said that the introduction of the ADR would help decongest the courts, thereby allowing judges to have more time in handling cases which are not amenable to ADR. This, she said, would make the Judiciary more efficient in ensuring quality justice delivery.
“The efficiency of the justice system is one of the elements investors look out for when deciding whether to invest in a particular country or not, they desire a place where their investment can be protected judicially”….she noted.
READ ALSO: Oti Optimist Club Inaugurated
Justice Larbi highlighted Section 72(1) of the Courts Act 1993 (Act 459), indicating that any court with civil jurisdiction and its officers shall promote reconciliation, encourage and facilitate the settlement of the dispute in an amicable manner between and among persons over whom the court has jurisdiction.
Order 1, Rule 1(2) of the Hiigh Court (Civil procedure) Rules 2004 and the Courts Act 1993 (Act 459), therefore prescribe amicable resolution of cases before the courts as the most innovative way by which justice can be done to disputants without delay.
She said currently, the ADR programme was extended to 131 courts across the country with at least five mediators assigned to each court.
She added that a total of 635 mediators have also been trained and assigned to the 131 courts connected to the ADR programme. Adding that, last year 6,209 cases were mediated out of which 3,041 cases were settled, representing a 49 per cent settlement rate.
This, she said, indicates that the programme was a reliable partner to the Traditional justice delivery system and must, therefore, be embraced and nurtured for a quality justice delivery system.
She stated that parties who have cases would be given the opportunity to settle the matter through mediation.
She reiterated that “after 15 years of implementing the court-connected Alternative Dispute Resolution program, it is our expectation that it becomes a major plank for seeking justice as long as the nature of the case admits its the intervention of ADR”.
In his address, Supervising Judge of the High Court for Volta and Oti Region, Justice Eric Baah said since the introduction of the ADR, about 90 per cent of cases have been resolved because “it is cheaper and shorter, thus, the need reintroduce the program to the public to enable easy access to justice”.
He said that the judiciary has insufficient staff and it lacks resources to function and that going through the traditional way of resolving cases have been a challenge.
By Agnes Melissa Yovo | Volta Region