In episode 5 of Expert Views on ADR (EVA) Podcast, two questions were raised, the first one was ‘what prompted the birth of the ESMDC’ and the second question was, ‘what could influence the selection of an ADR option’?
I had the opportunity to discuss these questions with Mr Ikechukwu Onuoma Esq (Notary Public), the Managing Partner of Obra Legal; a lawyer with over 14 years of experience in Litigation, Domestic and International Arbitration and Negotiation. He is also a Charted Mediator who has mediated over 15 cases at the Enugu State Multi-Door courthouse (ESMDC) since the inception of ESMDC in 2018 and an Editorial member board the Enugu State Multi-Door Court House Journal.
We concluded that though they are factors that would influence selecting an ADR option, for both the parties and lawyers. However, they are motivational factors, especially for the lawyers that would encourage them to embrace ADR.
What prompted the birth of ESMDC?
We provided an overview that was centred on four (4) key points. They are as follows:
1) To enhance access to justice by providing an Alternative Mechanism to supplement litigation in resolving a dispute.
2) To minimise the frustration faced by citizens in the justice delivery process.
3) To provide a legal framework for a fair and efficient way of settling matters through ADR.
4) To become the hub of ADR in the whole entire eastern region.
What are the factors that that could influence the selection of an ADR Option?
In Nigeria, generally, three factors were highlighted that could influence an ADR option’s choice or selection. These factors are as follows:
1) The mindset of legal practitioners, collaborative agencies, community and friends.
2) Efficiency and speed in the justice delivery system.
3) Finance for lawyers.
Given this discussion, another prominent question emanated on ‘what could motivate lawyers to tow the ADR path to ease the court’s burden?
Motivational factors for lawyers to tow the ADR Path:
Culture, Awareness and Career (CAC) were revealed as the three motivational factors.
Culture: Reveals itself in the sense that customary Arbitration already forms an intrinsic part of our culture in Africa. Validating the above view, Ikechukwu Onuoma elucidated that in the African continent the ADR already forms a part of their culture thus a constant reminder of these would help remind the lawyers and the potential users to opt for ADR.
For example, he revealed that ‘in the African culture they have the Obi’s, Baale’s, and the Emirs who otherwise act as arbitrators over the disputes between the parties. Also, he exemplified the above submission by citing the famous book written by Chinua Achebe. He states, “we will find iconic scenes in his books Things fall Apart, references have been made to families who have been brought to the Igwe and he settled their matters.”He emphasised that ‘as a consequence, it shows firstly that the elements of Traditional African Method of Settling Disputes (TAMSD) –the parties submit voluntarily, which is the same element overlapping with ADR, the second is that the parties would accept the terms which overlap the ADR, – acceptance of the terms.
Finally, the parties be it the kinsmen or the communities will also agree that they will be bind by the terms of that customary arbitration or settlements and sometimes in order to be bind- involves some sort of oath-taking in their customary rudimental arbitration and exactly this binding nature of TAM flows into the same ADR now institutionalised, hence culture is key.’
Awareness: This is where the Enugu State Multi-door Courthouse comes into play. The director, Mrs Caroline Etuk, has taken advantage of the new terrain to create the new Mediterranean through campaigns and training.
Career: If most of the ADR matters done by lawyers will count or form part of the requirement for those who want to be appointed as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) or a judge. That would encourage lawyers to refer more cases and advocate or enlighten their clients to opt for ADR.
Some of the Feedbacks/ comments received for this episode:
Insightful session-Little wings
Very insightful session on ADR. I agree that awareness should be thrumped up. Culture is another element that should be progressively embedded in formal ADR processes for greater buy-ins, especially in Nigeria’s eastern part.-Justina Dillion
I just started listening to your podcast, and I can tell you that I have learnt so much about ADR.
Keep up with the good work.- Jude Oke
Hence we hope that all the points raised in this discourse should not discourage potential parties or the lawyers who are yet to embrace this scheme rather it should serve as a motivational factor or an incentive to embrace ADR / opt for ADR.
Chinwe Umegbolu, Dispensation of Justice: Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) as a Case study (Ongoing research University of Brighton 2018-2021).