The Judicial Service on Thursday appealed to the public to embrace the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programme as a means of clearing the backlog of cases pending before the country's courts.
ADR incorporated in the court adjudication process is the means of using private neutrals to settle minor offences, land litigations among others things between parties. After parties agree on terms of settlement, the courts adopts as a consent judgment.
Mr. Senyo M. Adjabeng, National Coordinator of the ADR Programme, at a press conference to announce the ADR Week in Accra, said between January and September this year, about 45 per cent of cases referred for mediation have been settled successfully.
Mr Adjabeng said: "583 cases have been successfully resolved in Accra alone through mediation between January and September and about 162 mediators who have been involved in the programme at the district Courts level, have imparted on peace-building in their communities," he added.
According to Mr Adjabeng, some cases which had been pending before the court for over 11 to 12 years have been settled within weeks adding others during mediation were done in two hours.
Explaining the impact of the ADR, he noted that the programme, which also sought to provide access to justice to the poor and vulnerable in the society, was cost effective and less time consuming.
He said the ADR programme was running under a five year strategic plan noting that 50 more mediators were going to be trained in the coming years so that each district court would have at least five mediators.
"We hope that by 2012 the programme would spread in the entire district as well as the regional capitals.
Mr Adjabeng said his outfit was also embarking on sensitization programmes for stakeholders so that the programme trickles down.
He said during the ADR week, judges or magistrate prior to the week referred cases suitable for mediation and parties were assisted to select mediators from the list available.
“When a case is successfully resolved, the agreement which is signed by the parties, their witnesses and the mediator, is entered as consent judgment by the judge or magistrate immediately after the mediation process,” Mr Adjabeng explained.
“So far we have about 90 per cent of judges have been sensitized on the ADR programme. Lawyers and the public have also been roped into the programmes,” he added.
He pointed out that payment of the remunerations of mediators was one of the challenges facing the concept saying the service was going to institute a fund that would take care of their remunerations.
Mr Adjabeng expressed optimism that the fund would be outdoored next year and appealed to all to patronize the programme since positive mediation fostered communal and family unity. It also brought justice to the doorsteps of persons in deprived communities.
The ADR National Coordinator appealed to public to contact the programmes secretariat at the Supreme Court, or enquire from a magistrate or judge, Court Registrars and lawyers for more directions.