The Lagos Settlement Week (L.S.W.) as the name implies is a week set aside by the Chief Judge of Lagos State for specific Courts to clear the backlog of cases through referrals to the LMDC for possible resolution through the A.D.R. processes. It is essential to point out that the settlement week is a joint initiative of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, the Lagos State Judiciary, the Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Bar Association (N.B.A.).
Hence most of the cases that are treated during the settlement week are court-referred and walk-in matters. These are cases that have been attempted in the informal setting A.D.R. and failed, thus the real motive behind the LSW is to find a way of decongesting the high courts. In other words, the court wants to give a second try to those cases and also to uphold the High Court of Lagos (H.C.L.) State Rules; Order 3 Rule 11:
“for all originating processes filed in the Registry shall be screened to determine the suitability for Alternative dispute resolution (A.D.R.) mechanisms and may be referred to the Lagos Multi-Door Court House or any appropriate A.D.R. institution.”
For the following reasons, H.C. L Rules, in collaboration with the LMDC, has demonstrated the viability of Alternative Dispute Resolution for Justice reform and continues to serve as a model for other states of the federation.
It is essential to point out that the first settlement week programme for 2019 was held at the beginning of the year. And the subsequent one was held in December 2019. The next settlement week is from the 21st-25th September 2020. It is essential to point out that before the Lagos Settlement Week (L.S.W.) takes off. The case managers will have to go to the court to screen matters, that are A.D.R. amenable.
Online Dispute Resolution (O.D.R.):
The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse has continued to fulfil its overriding objectives stipulated in section 2 of the new rule 2015- by providing the 1st Online Settlement Month (O.S.M.) in Africa. The Chief of Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice K.O Alogba recently approved the discourse as mentioned above. The first-ever O.D.R. week will be held from the 11-16th December 2020.
The Purpose of the Lagos Settlement Week:
One of the overriding objectives of the LMDC is to promote or undertake activities including but not limited to the settlement week which will further aid in decongesting the courts and in turn assist in achieving the purpose for which the LMDC was established.
In furtherance, Settlement Week was created to encourage the early settlement of cases pending in the Lagos High Court; in so doing paves the way for cost-effective justice and speedier dispute resolutions for the disputants.
Scopes of matters that can be referred to the L.S.W.:
A.D.R. can be utilised in resolving disputes ranging from; Tenancy matters, property disputes, debt recoveries, libel and slander, administration of an estate, employment and trade disputes; construction disputes; accident and tort; medical negligence, contracts enforcement, family disputes, succession disputes, small claims and banking and insurance-related disputes
Evidently, the L.S.W. and O.S.W. is an A.D.R. awareness program to restore public confidence in the judiciary and promote A.D.R. processes in Nigeria. It is also a perfect opportunity for the stakeholders-Judges, magistrates, lawyers, mediators and users of the scheme to partake in promoting A.D.R.
Umegbolu, Chinwe: Dispensation of Justice: Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse as a Case Study ( Ongoing research at the University of Brighton).
The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse: Lagos Settlement Week -Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS).
The High court rules of Lagos State 2012