The Chief Justice (CJ), Mrs Justice Georgina Wood on Tuesday announced that the judiciary has embraced the use of the Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) to settle cases at every stage of the judicial process.
She said parties who brought their cases to the Commercial Court, which is a specialized division of the High Court are enjoined by the rules of Court to first submit theirs dispute for ADR.
It is only when ADR failed to settle the case that the normal course of litigation would follow.
The above was contained in a speech read for her by Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, a Supreme Court Judge, at the inauguration of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation's (GBC) Dispute Resolution Centre in Accra.
She said in line with the five-year strategic plan of the Judicial Service ADR programme, the national ADR Secretariat of the judicial service continued to undertake activities aimed at ensuring the effective implementation of ADR in courts across the country.
She said the ADR concept is fast gaining popularity and credence as a laudable complement to existing disputes resolution mechanisms in litigation and traditional forms of dispute resolution.
This occurrence is believed to be, because the litigation process in the Courts is slow and expensive and the gradual breakdown of the extended family system in the country has rendered traditional disputes resolution in many cases ineffective.
Mrs Justice Georgina Wood said the court-connect mediation as compared to court litigation has been found to be faster, cheaper, restoring strained interpersonal relationships between parties in disputes and providing for win-win outcomes after dispute resolution.
She said when a case is successfully settled at mediation, an agreement signed by the parties and the mediator is presented to the court and adopted as a judgment of the court.
She also noted that the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) advocates the use of ADR as the main dispute resolution mechanism for settling labour disputes between workers and their employers.
She said under the Labour Law, disputes arising out of the employment relationship should be settled through dialogue in the first instance, then through a facilitated negotiation, mediation and arbitration.
She urged the newly qualified mediators to be diligent with their new skills and profession.
She said ADR practice, as challenging as it provided a lot of avenues for professional growth and earning of supplementary income in some instances.
She expressed the hope that the new ADR Centre at GBC would serve as a primary avenue for resolving all grievances and disputes in the organization before they spill over to the courts.
Mr Michael Djan Owusu, West African Network for Peace Building (WANEP) and a Resource Person for the course urged the management of GBC to integrate ADR into the mission, vision and the programmes of the Corporation.
He said when employees understood the goals of the ADR programme and how they related to it, it enabled them to determine how they relate or fit into the future of the organization, thereby reducing resistance to the programme.