The Judicial Service of Ghana, on Tuesday, marked the national Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) week celebration, with a forum at the Pope John Senior High and Junior Seminary, in Koforidua, for students drawn from the New Juaben Municipality.
The forum, which was under the Theme, “Enhancing ADR: The Role of the Youth,” was to share with the students benefits which are well established in ADR and to encourage them to consider careers in ADR.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution is a concept that encompasses a variety of processes or mechanism by which conflicts/ disputes are addressed.
Speaking at the forum, Mr Senyo M. Adjabeng, National ADR Coordinator, Judicial Service of Ghana, said the ADR Week programme was set aside by the Chief Justice, in each legal term, to provide parties with cases pending in court the opportunity to have their cases resolved through Court-Connected ADR.
He said the week is also used to sensitize the general public and targeted stakeholders about benefits of Court –Connected ADR and how each person could maximize the benefits of ADR in Court or in their communities.
Mr Adjabeng said the disadvantages of the court trial process were numerous and continued to worsen, especially in the country.
Mr Adjabeng said the courts were choked with cases and average settlement duration of cases may range from one to 15 years.
He said ADR on the other hand ensured the speedy resolution of cases while mending the tattered relationships between the disputing parties.
“It is economically cheaper than court litigation and the parties have absolute control over the process. One good news is that lawyers may not necessarily be needed in ADR procedures hence attorney's fees can be saved”.
Mr Adjabeng said to date; about 1,500 cases had been successfully settled in Accra alone through Court-Connected Mediation in the District Courts.
Mrs Georgette Francois, Legal practitioner and Executive Director for West Africa Dispute Resolution Centre (WADREC), appealed to the Executive and Legislative Arms of Government to take a serious look at the ADR Bill and facilitate its promulgation into law to give uniformity to ADR practice in the country.
She said when education was used as a tool for reducing conflicts then; schools could be one of the best places where young people could learn about how they could live peacefully with each other.