Oyo State Multi-Door Courthouse (OYSMDC) as it stands today -Under the Leadership of Mrs Anuolu Gade

Mrs Anuolu Gade- Director of OYSMDC

Mrs Anuolu Gade- Director of OYSMDC.

I was delighted to welcome Mrs Anuolu Gade, the Director of Oyo State Multi-Door Courthouse (OYSMDC) and a member of the Governing Board of OYSMDC. Mrs Gade obtained a degree in Law from the University of Ibadan in 1998 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2001. She worked at the Public Prosecution Department for ten (10) years as a Prosecutor. She also worked as a Mediator at the Oyo State Citizen Mediation Centre, Ministry of Justice, for about six (6) years and later rose to become a Deputy Director in the Mediation Centre. 
Mrs Gade is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, Nigeria, an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK, CIArb and a steering committee member Covid-19 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Initiative (CADRI).

In this episode, we discussed the following questions :
1) When and how did the OYSMDC commence?
2) Has it been able to enhance access to justice for the Citizens of Oyo State?
3) How are matters referred to the MDC?
4) Is there any measurable difference or impact on the cost of settling disputes compared to litigation?
5) What is your advice for potential users or users of the OYSMDC?
When and how did the OYSMDC commence?
The OYSMDC came onboard precisely or was established in March 2018. This was necessary because the court dockets were overloaded with cases, thereby depriving users or litigants of their fundamental right, which is to access the court in a timely fashion. Akin, the MDC is an ADR centre that offers ADR processes such as Mediation, Arbitration, Conciliation and other Hybrid processes.
Following the above point, the essence of MDC’s establishment was to promote easy access for the people and resident of OYSMDC.
Has the OYSMDC been able to enhance access to justice for the citizenry? 
We affirmed that OYSMDC had enhanced access to Justice for their citizenry because mediation or ADR mechanism is a less formal, cost-effective, timely process, unlike litigation. Litigation is expensive, it’s cumbersome, and it could also be tedious.
Additionally, when we talk about litigation, especially in Nigeria, it can be very frustrating, and it could also make the litigants impoverished because it is expensive. Not many people can afford litigation, but the ADR mechanism that the OYSMDC offers is user-friendly. It is quick, cheaper, and builds and preserves the relationship. For example, business relationship, the family relationship amongst other relationships can be preserved, unlike litigation like Yoruba’s will say, “you do not go to court and come back as friends; you end up as permanent enemies.” These are some of the benefits of the MDC, and apart from that, it enhances businesses in the state just within a short time when people bring their cases to the MDC within one or two sessions, matters are resolved amicably. It helps to promote quick and easier resolution in commercial activities in the states.
Is there any measurable difference or impact on the cost of settling disputes at the OYSMDC compared to litigation?
When parties come to the OYSMDC, they are asked to pay an administrative fee more like a stipend- very cheap as low as 5,000 Naira (equivalent to £9.40) from both parties. It takes care of logistics, services and processes. However, the Litigation fees, which is about 100,000 naira- 500,000 Naira (though varies depending on the law firm and state), cannot be compared with the early mentioned fees.

Therefore, it is submitted that there is a great impact on the cost of settling disputes at the OYSMDC compared to litigation costs.

What is your advice for potential users of OYSMDC?
We pointed out that potential users should try as much as possible to patronise the MDC. After all, they stand to gain so many benefits when they do so because they have a panel of neutrals. These are experienced ADR professionals from all walks of life in various fields like engineers and bankers who would attend to their cases. Thus when they bring their cases to OYSMDC, they do not lose anything at the end of the day. They get quick and timely solutions as they have various civil cases from tenancy, commercial, land cases, banking, investment and employment cases.

Additionally, one of the many benefits of ADR is that parties have to sign a confidential agreement, including the mediators. Lastly, at the end of each matter where it is resolved, parties enter into a resettlement agreement. After that, such an agreement is taken before an ADR Judge who would not fault such an agreement-rather would endorse it.

Validating the above assertion is section 21 (1) 1, 2 of the OYSMDC 2017, which states ‘that where an ADR Judge endorses such an agreement, it shall be deemed enforceable as a judgement of the High Court (H.C).’

How are matters referred to the MDC?

There are three different ways by which matters are brought into the MDC. The first one is the 
Walk-In route-anybody can come in by themself with or without a lawyer; they do not necessarily need a lawyer.

The second method by which a matter can be brought to the MDC is through Court-Referrals– the court refers cases that are amenable to ADR to the MDC. The third and the last method of bringing cases to the MDC is by Direct Intervention; the directors have been empowered to invite disputing parties to the OYSMDC to settle their disputes amicably.

This work has been able to analyse how the OYSMDC commenced. It has provided a detailed account of the cost implication of settling disputes through the MDC, which is way cheaper than the cost of litigation. This work concludes with the significant points raised by the director of OYSMDC on the current satisfaction with the system while revealing why potential users or disputants should embrace the scheme.
To listen to the full version of Episode 17 of EVA, click here.

Practical Negotiation Skills with Mrs Achere Cole

Mrs Achere Cole

Mrs Achere Cole – Deputy Director / Head of Operations of the LMDC

In today’s EVA episode, I was pleased to welcome Mrs Achere Cole, the Deputy Director and Head of Operations of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) and Secretary to the Governing Council of LMDC. She holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and a second master’s degree in law from the University of Lagos. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2003 and is a CEDR UK Accredited mediator. 
Mrs Achere has national and regional experience in building ADR mechanisms and capacity. She consulted for the Judiciary of Kenya and the International Development Law Organisation on a project to support the Sustaining Judiciary Transformation Blueprint of Kenya’s Judiciary. She was an External Evaluator for a Court Annexed Pilot Project that was commissioned by the Kenya office of the IDLO and International Commission of Jurists, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the High Court of Kenya for the family and commercial divisions of Milamani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya.
She was part of the pioneer staff that midwifed the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse’s establishment under the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group (NCMG). She was a trainer, assessor and mentor for a Justice for All (British Council) project on “increasing access to mediation and legal services for poor people”. She has also provided training for Mediators and Staff of the Kaduna and Abia Multi-Door Courthouses under a World Bank assisted project to expand ADR institutions in Nigeria. Mrs Achere was part of the team that trained 37 staff of the Kano Multi-Door Courthouse to enable the KMDC to start Operations under the Security, Justice and Growth Programme of the British Council.  She was Head of Human Resources and Administration of Capital Partners Limited and was Workforce Assessment Team Lead as part of a team of consultants responsible for the Bank PHB Retail Strategy Implementation Project and is a trained election observer by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre, Ghana.
Mrs Achere teaches Mediation and Communication courses at the LMDC and is also a Restorative Justice Trainer. She is a proficient and interventionist Mediator in fields that cut across commercial contracts, family, criminal and employment disputes.
We critically discussed the following questions:  
A.  Why Negotiation? 
B.  What are the benefits of Negotiation?
C.  What are the skills necessary for anyone to engage in Negotiation?
D.  What is your advice for potential users of Negotiation and people who want to pursue a career in Negotiation or as a Negotiator?

Why Negotiation?
Negotiation is the first step in dispute resolution. It can be defined as the interaction between two people whereby they have an opportunity to resolve their dispute, preferably in an interest-based fashion. For instance, organisations can work with one another and resolve their dispute themselves and even individuals, which is the essence of negotiation before moving on to other dispute resolution mechanisms that involve a third (3rd) party. Hence, it has the potential to put the parties interests together and settle between themselves privately before they involve any third party neutral.
What are the Benefits of Negotiation?
It is private and a flexible form of dispute resolution so can be done under any circumstances. What that means is that it can be done anywhere; It can be done using a system that has been designed by the parties. It is not rigid and has a greater possibility for a successful outcome except when the parties adopt a positional-based approach instead of an interest-based approach. This possibility of a successful greater outcome leads to a win-win solution in which both sides are happy to get results that are beneficial to their interest.
Additionally,  it provides parties with the opportunity to design an agreement that will serve their interest. For instance, they can design whatever solutions they want and document them, and that becomes the contract between the parties in which, of course, can be enforced in the court of law, and that design comes from either party. It enhances the relationship between the parties, which is really important in today’s society, and much less expensive in comparison to other mechanisms of dispute resolution.
Disadvantages of Negotiation
When two parties come together to resolve a dispute and one party does not understand interest-based position versus positional based negotiation, they tend to negotiate in a positional fashion which may lead to a breakdown of negotiation (interest-based v positional based negotiation). This means that one party is keen on insisting on a particular outcome and not interested in the other party’s interest or discussing it. This is one of the many disadvantages of Negotiation.
The skills necessary for anyone to engage in Negotiation 
Preparation: The most skill required is preparation; that is the need for a negotiator to prepare for the meeting, study the history of the relationship, what kind of negotiation they are involved in and what kind of dispute.
Problem analysis:  Another important skill required by a negotiator is how to analyse the problem or issues raised in the dispute. Thus, the need to stand out of the dispute and look at it as an observer or with a fresh eye and analyse the problem. To see what really caused the dispute and determine the interest of both sides and what are the possible interest and what are the possible solutions is critical.
Active Listening: This is an equally important skill set to gain as a negotiator. Most times, people listen with the intention of responding to what the other person is saying. It is essential to learn to listen as a negotiator, and that is why it is called active listening, taking out any thoughts about what the parties are going to say or meant to say. Instead of doing that, the negotiator needs to listen to understand and summarize or rephrase what they have just said to ensure that you understood what they have said that will make or show the parties know that they were heard. Finally, the essence of active listening is that the party feels that the negotiator has listened, and that is a skill set which a negotiator needs to learn and develop.


Advice for Potential users and people who want to pursue a career as a Negotiator or in Negotiation?

We pointed out that the need for adequate training cannot be overemphasized. To reiterate, the importance of getting appropriate skills – like active listening, questioning skills, decision making and problem analyses are essential tools that are all built into the negotiation training.
In furtherance, potential users or users should not go into a meeting with a positional based approach rather go in with an interest-based fashion or approach to their negotiation.
This work was able to provide a holistic view of Negotiation and its intricacies. We hope potential users would take on board the vital points raised herein and put them to good use by opting for ADR, particularly Negotiation as the case may be.
To listen to the full version of Episode 16 of EVA, click here.

Careers in ADR with Professor Emilia Onyema

Professor Emilia Onyema

I was super excited to welcome Professor Emilia Onyema, a Professor in International Commercial Law at SOAS, University of London. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, qualified to practice law in Nigeria, and as a Solicitor in England & Wales.
Professor Onyema is a member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce International Arbitration Centre (LACIAC) and the Lagos Court of Arbitration, the Advisory Committee of the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA). She presides over the Advisory Committee of the Libya Centre for International Commercial Arbitration. She is also a member of various professional associations, including the Nigerian Bar Association and the International Bar Association. She convenes the “SOAS Arbitration in Africa” conference series and publishes the Arbitration in Africa Survey and the African Promise’s co-author; she has published various books and articles on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), particularly on Arbitration. 
Professor Onyema was awarded the Mentor of the Year 2020 by the African Arbitration Association (AfAA); She has mentored so many people over the years and still mentoring, including my humble self, and one of the main reasons I am researching in ADR- Multi-Door Courthouse (MDC) in Nigeria.
In this episode, we discussed the following questions:
a) What is ADR?
b) How did you start or commence your journey as an ADR Practitioner/ Academia?
c) Throughout your journey as an ADR Practitioner/Academia, have you had any cause to doubt the effectiveness of ADR, to be precise, Arbitration?
d) What is the Career Progression in Arbitration?
e) What is your advice to someone that wants to pursue a career in Arbitration?
f) What is your advice for potential users of ADR?
We concluded by revealing the need for professional training as an arbitrator while touching on what potential users and persons who want to pursue a career in ADR, particularly arbitration, should look out for.
Keywords: Dispute Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Arbitration, Access to Justice; Careers
  • I dedicate this episode to my mum-Mildred Obiageli Egbunike (Nee Bosah), who passed away on Saturday 6th March 2021. My angel, you looked forward to listening to this session with Prof, but the good Lord took you to be with Him and watch over us. Love you forever mum -till we meet to part no more! Rest in the Lord.




This essay set out to understand an established ADR Practitioner / Academia’s view and experience in the field of ADR – arbitration to be precise.
It aims to enlighten people on the following -that litigation is not the only option, there are other mechanisms that they can opt for, the need to pursue a career in ADR, and the best ways to go about that. Hence, the invitation of an erudite Professor who has forged a career path in the subject matter to tell her story in a bid to inform or encourage other people to tow the same path.


What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

The term  ‘ADR’ clearly begs the question of Alternative to what? If it is looked at as an alternative to litigation, then every other method of resolving disputes outside of litigation in the court system will fall within ADR.  Then again, it is an Alternative to Adjudicative processes of dispute resolution. It means that anything outside of Litigation, Arbitration or Adjudication, or anything where a third party makes a decision for the parties-these falls within ADR. So it is always helpful to clarify what the Alternative is or is related to.
Professor Onyema emphasised ‘that quite a lot of Arbitration lawyers like herself will not consider Arbitration as falling within ADR because it is a process wherein a third party decides or makes a decision for the parties, unlike Mediation or Conciliation where the third (3rd) party supports the parties or the disputants to decide for themselves.’
Thus in Arbitration, the parties can get a private judgement; they can get an award which the court will back up and enforce. On the other hand, in Mediation, what the parties get is still a settlement agreement that the parties have signed onto, which they need to go to the court to accept before they start the enforcement process. In other words, Mediation is not self-enforcing akin not the same value as a Judgement. It does not have a res judicata effect, so some scholars resist Arbitration being looped in the same category as Mediation or Conciliation processes.
How did you start or commence your journey as an ADR Practitioner/ Academia?
Professor Onyema revealed that she started out as a legal practitioner (called to the Nigerian bar in 1989, almost twenty (20) years ago), and one of the things that introduced her to Arbitration was the first time she acted as a Counsel in the Construction disputes in an Arbitration. That was what intensified her interest in arbitration.  It is essential to point out that in those days, Arbitration or ADR was not taught as part of Nigeria legal degree, not even in law school.
 In other words, she did not start sitting as an Arbitrator or was not actively engaged until she came to the United Kingdom to do her PhD. She had participated in the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in early 2000; they had a mentoring scheme and had a mentor. She sat in one of his Arbitrations; that was basically how her journey in Arbitration commenced.


Throughout your journey as an ADR Practitioner/Academia, have you had any cause to doubt the effectiveness of ADR, to be precise, Arbitration?

Mediation is a very useful tool that empowers the parties. For instance, it is like thinking of the information age, which is now, people are bombarded by so much information because they take on so many responsibilities. They need to sieve through all the information they are receiving. They are forced to think, at least critically engage with the information they are receiving to know whether it makes sense for them to believe it and what should they do with it, and that is what mediation does for the parties.

Essentially in mediation, parties do not effectively hand over their dispute to legal representatives; they are engaged in that dispute. Mediation looks at the parties and what would be beneficial to them.  Hence, most times results in a win-win situation because sometimes it is just an apology that is all that a party wants or in commercial mediation might be a case of terminating the contract or one of the disputing parties can supply something else. So there are imaginative solutions with the commercial outcome in view.

On the other hand, in Arbitration, depending on the jurisdiction and depending on how important that particular dispute is to the parties, it might be that they are knowledgeable either in the law or in the subject- matter of the dispute, then they can make decisions in a timely fashion.  Hence for commercial parties, the disputes must be resolved within a very reasonable time. However, in the Nigerian Jurisdiction, going before the judiciary- the delay or the time it takes just to go through and get a decision is horrendous; it is difficult. Unfortunately, the resultant effect is that litigants might not be satisfied with the quality of their judgment.

On the contrary, one of the good things about Arbitration is that arbitrators make reasoned decisions. For example, an Arbitrator will not say, ‘I prefer Chinwe’s submissions to Emilia’s submissions, so Chinwe wins.’  Then again, it begs the question, how did he arrive at that decision? Hence, the arbitrator has to read the judgement or get to a decision so that it actually makes sense. The parties can see why they lost.

However, not in all court judgements, they get that- in some Jurisdiction, reading the court’s judgement, it is copy and paste. And the question that comes to mind will be, ‘I know what the claimant/respondent said. But how did he/she apply the law to arrive at a decision? How did I lose? On the other hand, Arbitration is expensive because the parties pick up all the cost, while mediation is not as expensive as the former. However, they are expensive mediators, but meditation is a lot faster. How then would parties know which of the mechanisms to opt for?

We believe that parties need to understand what they are disputing over and then have a good understanding of what they want out of that dispute the sort of outcome they want. Then all of that is a basket of all sorts of considerations that parties need to engage with to enable them to determine which of the processes/mechanisms or dispute resolution tools will be best for them.

What is your advice to someone that wants to pursue a career in Arbitration?

She pointed out that engaging in an area of practice does not have to be only legal practice. They can be doctors, engineers, or accountants; disputes arise from all various human endeavours. Thus, people seeking to pursue a career in ADR should carry on doing what they are doing but get some professional training in resolving disputes. 


What is your advice for potential users of ADR?

Users need to know their disputes, know what they want to get out of them, and not be afraid to try new people. Onyema stated that a lot of work has been done on diversity. However, for those interested in diversifying dispute resolution- the decision-makers are afraid of appointing a new person they have not used before. The critical thing is that somebody has to take that initial risk, so it is a supply and demand thing. Suppose arbitrators are getting themselves prepared and working hard and preparing to get that appointment. Those who make an appointment have to take that risk.

Hence, it is in the parties hands to widen the pool; they have to be willing to risk appointing a new person, a newcomer who has done some work or has some experience in other fields. Akin to giving equal opportunity- some form of equality to everybody, which will ultimately benefit disputants much more because they will have many more people than they can call upon to resolve their disputes.




This essay has provided a contemporary view on why arbitration does not fall into ADR while at the same time highlighting its effectiveness. This essay has also provided a well-detailed analysis of the benefits of arbitration, the need for arbitrators to be visible and uncovered the hoodoo in getting professional training as an arbitrator.

To hear the full version of episode 15 of EVA, click here.



SOAS University of Law, School of Law: Professor Emilia Onyema <https://www.soas.ac.uk/staff/staff31559.php> accessed on 3rd March 2021

African Arbitration Association <https://afaa.ngo/page-18083> accessed on 2nd March 2021

Chinwe Stella Egbunike- Umegbolu, Dispensation of Justice: The  Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) as a Case Study (Ongoing-research at the University of Brighton 2018-2021) 89.


Snapshot of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Botswana

Mr Edward W.F. Luke II FCIArb, FSIArb, FBIArb, MCIArb,Dip Int Arb (CIArb)



I was delighted to welcome Mr Edward Luke II, a Barrister-at-law, England and Wales, a Barrister and Solicitor of Sierra Leone, and an Attorney of law, Botswana. He is the Managing Partner of Luke and Associates and one of Botswana’s leading lawyers with a wealth of local and international experience. He has engaged in several high-profile cases in the High Court and Court of Appeal in Botswana, including Botswana’s most sensational murder trial; appeared in the Court of Appeal with Sir Desmond de Silva Q.C. 
Mr Luke is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in the United Kingdom, Kenya and Zambia. He is also a fellow of the Singapore and Botswana Institute of Arbitrators. He is an author who has spoken at several international conferences on International Arbitration. 
In this episode, we explored ADR as it stands in Botswana today.
Keywords: Access to Justice, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Arbitration, Multi-Door Courthouse, Kgotla, Botswana; United Kingdom.




What prompted the birth of Arbitration in Botswana?

The Arbitration Act of Botswana was promulgated in 1959 to assist in the speedy resolution of disputes. It is essential to state that since Botswana became a prosperous country in the sense that when they find diamonds for so many years, they had the fastest economy globally. There was a lot of construction going on, which brought about a lot of disputes at all levels. So Arbitration became a widespread mechanism used to resolve these disputes efficiently.

 Prior to introducing ADR in Botswana, they had Kgotla – a place where people who have disputes assembly or meet with the chief or with the elders to help them resolve their disputes. People go before the Kgotla and air their views, and the chiefs or elders review them, and the decisions are always arrived at by consensus. Thus it is a traditional local means of resolving disputes and still part of the local culture that they have in Botswana.


How has the Arbitration journey fared in recent times?

In recent years, Arbitration is growing though they still use the old 1959 Act; however, the courts are very pro-arbitration. So the courts have made decisions that have established Botswana as a major alternative dispute resolution mechanism country. The courts recognise Arbitration, and they have been very consistent in accepting Arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism.

Hence the courts have given decisions that are very ADR friendly. Once the parties agree to the arbitration clause, then Arbitration is held, and if the arbitrators do not misconduct themselves or misconduct the proceedings or there is no fraud. The court upholds the arbitration award.


Is there a Court-annexed ADR or Multi-Door Courthouse in Botswana?

 It is not enforced or provided yet in the act, but then the Chief Justice mentioned that they are trying to introduce Court-annexed Mediation to proceedings.

However, the Civil proceedings rule has what is called the Case Management Conference (CMC), and in those case managements, the courts encourage the parties to settle before a matter goes to trial.


What skills are necessary for anyone to engage in ADR?

There is an institution that has a ‘Rolls Royce’ training for arbitrators, and it is the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in the UK. They have membership courses and also the fellowship, which is a challenging and comprehensive course. So mastering and passing these courses will enhance the skills needed to engage in ADR.


What is your advice for potential users of ADR and people who want to pursue a career in ADR?

To reiterate, people who want to get involved in Arbitration should get in training with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and also try to hook up with law firms that deal with Arbitration and attend conferences. This period (Covid 19-Pandemic) is a very good time that many people could attend conferences online. There are many webinars that are going on where some of the leading arbitrators in the world speak. So clearly, the opportunities for young people interested in Arbitration are plentiful. We would encourage both potential users and persons who want to pursue a career in ADR to look up this webinar, join them, and listen. There is no way that they cannot learn one or two things that would aid them in starting up a career in ADR vis-a-vis opt for ADR as an option. 



This essay has succeeded in summarising what prompted the birth of ADR in Botswana, how far they have fared in recent times and the necessary skills required for anyone to engage in ADR.

Hence, with the evidence provided in this essay, we believe that potential users and people who want to pursue a career in ADR, to be precise, Arbitration, would make a well-informed decision while searching for the best option in developing themselves in the chosen career path. 

To hear the full version of episode 14 of EVA, click here.



Botswana Arbitration Law, 1959.

Chinwe Stella Egbunike- Umegbolu, Dispensation of Justice: The  Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) as a Case Study (Ongoing-research at the University of Brighton 2018-2021) 89.


Exploration into the Concept of Family Mediation




Questions have been asked on ‘Whether Family Mediation falls into the general mediation or forms a different class of Mediation’? To answer the above-mentioned question, I invited Mr Joseph Omorere, a Masters degree holder in Dispute Resolution from Kingston University London. He is passionate about ADR and a qualified solicitor of England and Wales. Mr Omorere has practised for over nineteen (19) years in Immigration, Crime, Civil Litigation and Employment Law.

Keywords: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Family Mediation, Mediation, United Kingdom.




What is Family Mediation?

The concept of family mediation is different from that of general mediation. General mediation is where a neutral third party facilitate between individuals or between corporate or non-corporate bodies or between corporate bodies and vice versa to settle their disputes.

Conversely, as the name indicates, family mediation is about helping spouses resolve their differences or help to separate or divorcing couples sort out their disputes by a neutral third party known as a family mediator. The question that comes to mind is – who is a family mediator?
In simple terms, Family Mediators are trained to work with people whose relationships have broken down.

Scope of Matters Covered by Family mediation: It covers disputes over Contact arrangements,  Residence and Parental Responsibility, Child maintenance, Property, Finance – savings, debts and pension.


Does Family Mediation fall within the Parameters of General Mediation?

Following the above point, it could be argued that the word mediation brings both family mediation and general mediation into the same forum. Still, care must be taken not to confuse both. The difference is the safeguards that are injected into the family mediation, which separates it from general mediation. For instance, in family mediation, the mediator cannot mediate where spouses or other family members are influenced by fear of violence that occurred during the relationship. Those kinds of safeguards are not there in the general mediation; parties could leave or stop the session at any time they wish to.

To reiterate, it is safe to say that family mediation safeguards are for protecting parties who have encountered domestic violence during their relationship or parties with unequal bargaining powers in terms of resources – one party having access to more money and the other party has little or nothing. So the safeguard protects the less privileged party. It is essential to point out that in family mediation and general mediation, each party will be informed about the availability of independent legal advice during the process.


The Issue of Domestic Violence:

One of the main reasons domestic violence, in most jurisdiction, cannot proceed or be mediated is where there is a history of domestic violence. In the United Kingdom, the government takes it very seriously; this is because bringing parties who have been damaged or been through domestic violence to face each other again is adding trauma and fear to that particular person’s life. Though Mediation is aimed at securing a more constructive approach to marital breakdown and divorce. Nevertheless, the UK government has made it a policy that where there is a history of domestic violence, mediation can not proceed.


What is the Consequence of this Determination for Potential Users, and Why does this Determination Matter?

The consequence of this determination for potential users and why it matters is that Mediation is available to spouses but not at every cost. Thus, the government policy mentioned above protects domestic violence victims; hence they have to be kept away from experiencing or coming into face-to-face contact with their abusers.

In essence, while Mediation is available to all, the reverse is the case for family mediation, particularly for the aforementioned categories who have been affected or damaged even through domestic violence.


Advice to Potential parties and Intending Users of Mediation:

We indicated that Mediation is a very practical, cheaper, and an easy way of resolving spouses’ issues rather than going through the rigorous process associated with litigation. For example, filling form E (UK Law) is quite extensive.



This essay provides an exciting opportunity to advance the potential users’ knowledge on the differences between Family Mediation and General Mediation while indicating the standard precursor to their similarities: the voluntariness of the process, its party-driven nature and neutrality of the process.

To hear the full version of episode 13 of EVA, click here.



Edgar v Edgar  [1980] EWCA Civ 2

Mary Hayes, Catherine Williams, Family Law Principles, Policy and Practice (2nd ed, Butterworths 1999) p.554

Family Mediation-Gov.Uk, Family mediation Sorting out family disputes without going through court courthttps://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/489124/family-mediation-leaflet.pdf

Nwokolo, Kingsley, To What Extent Is The Mediation Process Useful to a Victim Of Domestic Violence When The Dispute Is Over Finances/Children Upon Separation Or Divorce? p. 24

Enhancing Access to Justice in Enugu through the ESMDC – Under the Leadership of Mrs Caroline Etuk

The Director of ESMDC- Mrs Caroline Nene Etuk.


I was excited to welcome Mrs Caroline Nene Etuk, the former Director of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC), the first court-connected Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre in Africa. She obtained a Masters Degree in Law from Kings College, University of London. Mrs Etuk was involved in legal practice until 2006 when she joined the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group (NCMG) as Centre Manager of the LMDC. Additionally, Mrs Etuk was accredited as an international mediator by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) in 2008.

She is currently the Director of the Enugu State Multi-Door Courthouse (ESMDC) from inception (July 2018) to date. As the ESMDC Director, she develops all its operational procedures, templates and training.

Mrs Etuk has attended various courses and conferences in the United Kingdom, and the USA. She has also authored and presented papers at both national and international ADR conferences. In this episode, we critically examined the following questions:

  1.  To what extent has the ESMDC enhanced access to justice for Enugu State Citizens?
  2.   In your view, have Lawyers in Enugu State accepted ADR?
  3.   How do Lawyers bill their Mediation clients?
  4.   What is your Advice for Potential Users and People who want to Pursue an ADR career?
  5.  What is the Career Progression for a typical Mediator?

We concluded by touching on how the ESMDC has helped enhance access to justice for the citizens and how lawyers can still make a meaningful living by billing their clients- following a well-outlined structure of billing clients by the ESMDC.


Keywords: Access to Justice, ADR, Mediation Advocacy, Careers in ADR, Multi-Door Courthouse, Enugu State Multi-Door Courthouse (ESMDC); Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC), Nigeria, United Kingdom.



The ESMDC was established in Enugu State, Eastern part of Nigeria, due to litigation’s numerous problems like cost, congestion of the court’s dockets and delay. It is essential to point out that Justice P.N Emehelu spearheaded this establishment in a bid to curb these problems. In her efforts to ensure the sustainability of the newly established ESMDC, she invited experienced hands in the field, the former Director of the LMDC Mrs Caroline Etuk to start up the centre in Enugu State.


To what extent has the ESMDC enhanced access to Justice for Enugu State Citizens? 

The ESMDC was established in July 2018, approximately two years and four months old. The scheme replicated the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) framework. Though the ESMDC is still at the nascent stages of their development in terms of how far they have gone in enhancing access to justice or assisting Enugu State’s citizenry to gain access, not just to the court but to the other dispute resolution methods of resolving their disputes. They have made a considerably good start; their caseloads stand at about 740 cases as of the end of 2020; however, other things are related to the extent of access to justice and how impactful it can become. For instance, the acceptability of ADR are challenges that every jurisdiction in the world has had to deal with or are currently dealing with.

The ESMDC faces the same challenges regarding getting the legal community to accept and embrace ADR. Aside from that, they are also dealing with the citizenry themselves, who have to choose whether to go to court or come to an ADR process at the Multi-Door Courthouse (MDC) bearing in mind that the decisions the citizens make are informed by what their lawyers say. In essence, there is much awareness that needs to be done.


In your view, have Lawyers in Enugu State accepted ADR?

Mrs Etuk elucidated that ‘lawyers not accepting ADR is not a problem that she was unfamiliar with’ as she was ‘director of the LMDC for ten (10) years and the same issue has been raised at several conferences and workshops she attended worldwide’ – though the ESMDC is tackling these challenge head-on by working with the Enugu Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Nevertheless, she revealed that when the lawyers talk about ADR on the face of it, there is always an assent that ADR is good, but when it actually comes to matters being referred in court (the Enugu state High court rules 2020 stipulates under Order 25, Rule 8 that a judge is empowered by the rules to use his/ her discretion to refer matters) by the judge or magistrate many lawyers will make an objection to a referral, and this might be the same person that has said ‘yes I admire ADR’, but when it touches him personally, consideration and decision become different. It is not unnatural because many lawyers feel that their matters going to ADR would affect their income. So it boils down to the issue of what remuneration will he get at the end of each matter. It is a matter of how does ADR personally impact the lawyer’s finances.


Mediation Advocacy Training?

It is a matter of how much more funding, time and effort can be thrown into creating awareness and training lawyers on what to do in a mediation fora. Many lawyers are quite ignorant of what happens in a proper formal mediation environment. They do not know what to expect, they have not had exposure to that type of dispute resolution, and do not know how to identify their relevance within that space. Hence raises prevalent questions like where does that place a lawyer? Does he get paid his full fees? Or does he get paid half the fees? How does the lawyer structure his practice around this sort of eventualities?

Indeed, all these are learning competencies that lawyers must embrace to feel comfortable and useful and run their mediation representation profitably? So those are all the issues that are addressed during mediation advocacy training.

By and large, Lagos is ahead in the sense that they had started a mediation advocacy training with Professor Andrew Goodman at the ‘Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates (SCMA)’ which has helped a lot because lawyers now attend the programme and they have become conversant with what to do and how to be profitable in an ADR environment. Thus, they had about twenty-five (25) lawyers who did the training and another twenty-five (25) lawyers in a few months would partake in the upcoming training; so that is like a pool of ADR activist and nuance expanding, so that is what the ESMDC intend to do in Enugu too.

Validating the last statement made above, the ESMDC have scheduled a Mediation advocacy training for April 2021.


How do Lawyers bill their mediation clients?

In different jurisdictions, legal practitioners bill in different ways. In Lagos State, their billing process is different from that of Enugu State. A significant part of the legal community in Enugu depends on appearance fees; what this means is that whenever a client matter comes up, he/she is supposed to pay the lawyer a certain amount of money to cover his transportation and disbursement. Now with a billing structure like that, it is bound to reason that the more times the lawyer attend court, the more payment he/she gets. However, there is a fee shared, but for most of the lawyers the fee might be paid upfront, but the continuous billing is what adds up to ensure that the lawyer gets something every time his case comes up. Thus, for that type of billing structure, ‘ADR is the enemy’ in the sense that while some of the lawyers are trying to make sure that litigating a matter is lengthened, on the contrary, ADR is cutting it short.

The mediator’s objective in the Multi-Door Courthouse (MDC) is to ensure that matter ends as soon as possible. The focal point here is that many lawyers except for the well-constituted law firms send their juniors to the MDC for mediation, which is not so right, or many of them abandon their clients entirely.

The line of thinking behind this is that most lawyers are aggravated that their clients have chosen to settle at the MDC. In most cases, they will practically instruct their clients to go to the mediation session without them that once they have settled, they/he can come and signup on the Terms of Settlement (TOS).

Following the above reasons, it is fair to imply that the lawyer’s behavioural pattern connotes or implies that they believe that settling through ADR via MDC route, is a waste of their time. Another scenario could be after the case has been mentioned in court and maybe a few preliminary applications are taken, which is legal time and work being put in there, at that stage, the court refers the case to the MDC, and they have the first session. By the second session, the matter is settled because the parties have agreed on something. Now, where does that leave the lawyer? Who has given a total bill of 2 Million Naira (equivalent to £3,748.68), perhaps expecting that the case will go on for a year or two; now three months into the time and the case was settled?

Assuming without conceding that the client has given the lawyer a Million Naira as advanced payment and there is a million naira still outstanding and say this matter has now been settled. The client refused to pay the outstanding balance because it was not concluded in litigation as agreed. Moreover, the client insists that he /she took part, and the lawyer hardly said a word and now wants to collect the remaining million Naira. It begs the question for doing precisely what? So that is an issue, the lawyers definitely would feel short-changed.

Hence structure needs to be built around this – the ‘lawyers’ best thing to do is always expect an eventuality; to take that eventuality into account when negotiating with a client. For instance, in line with the ESMDC billing structure, if the 2 million Naira is for two years, the client pays the lawyer one million Naira. If the matter goes for mediation, and it is settled, what the lawyer will be getting is another 30% of the said sum. So there is an agreement, or there is a structure already in place so if the matter goes to the MDC; perchance it is settled both the party and lawyer knows that this was the agreement reached ‘ab initio’. If the matter settles, the lawyer gets 30% of his balance, like 300,000 Naira (equivalent to £568). However, if the matter does not settle, the matter goes back to court, and the trial continues, the lawyer gets his balance which is a full 1million Naira at the end.

Now the above-stated examples/scenarios have underlying psychological issues playing out. So, if a lawyer knows that he is better off getting the 30% that is the 300,000 naira and ending the case which is probably a terrible case and if it goes on to trial and gets concluded in a trial. He might lose the case, and the downside of losing a case is usually not getting referrals from these particular clients. Thus, it is better for the lawyer to get this 30% or 40% they agreed. But If he throws himself into the process and becomes a vital part of the process to ensure that his clients can get a good deal out of the mediation by bringing in a lot of creativity, he brings a lot of his experience. He becomes an ally of the mediator in helping the parties resolve the matter but if the lawyer feels “I have a lot that I need to do with this 1 million naira that is left he becomes a nuisance in the mediation.”

In sum, all these are underlying issues the lawyer is not voicing out. However, the mediator has to be skilled enough to unearth and realise these underlying psychological issues (pun intended) playing in the background that hinder the process.


What is your advice for Potential Users and for people that want to pursue a career in ADR?

For potential users or users who have a dispute, they should try and avail themselves of being at a mediation session. Moreover, once at the mediation session, they should learn the ropes. They can get that as an experience because once at mediation, they now know how it works. The next time at a mediation session, they are more proficient in negotiating and getting the best deals. On the other hand, for people to pursue a career in ADR is know-how, they need to attend practice-based training, not theoretically training. 

Additionally, the person’s seeking to pursue a career in ADR need to have structures in place they need to attract ADR / Mediation business. So they need to expand their network; people need to know they have the expertise or If they are industrialised, their niche will be where they are more proficient in and that they are available. For instance, they can do pro-bono to get referrals and do their best not to take up matters for which they do not have competencies if they are in a massive mediation with high stakes there is a lot to lose. They need to get a co-mediator who is more experienced and versatile to ensure that they give the parties the best deal.


What is the career progression for a typical Mediator? 

We pointed out that there is no laid down career progression for a typical mediator because, in the past, some people had wanted to close down their law business and face mediation alone. However, they were advised not to because they cannot sustain only on mediation practice because of the way the Nigeria economy is. Nevertheless, if they are legal practitioners, they can have a unit in their law practice that is an ADR unit to start from there. 



 This paper has been able to reveal that ESMDC has helped enhanced access to justice for the citizens at the same time holistically dealing with contemporary issues facing ADR through the MDC vis a vis legal practitioners not embracing ADR due to the rudiments involved in billing their mediation clients. This paper has also established that intending persons/people who want to pursue an ADR career should have a law practice (if they are lawyers) as a buffer and start the mediation programme and let it grow. However, one can also develop a career in ADR with a law degree.

Nonetheless, in terms of expertise, it needs to be built upon, there is nothing that can compromise for that.  However, court-connected programmes are like a market for disputes. If one becomes a member of the panel of neutrals they should try and get as many cases as possible for the purpose of honing their skills in the area; as the industry grows, they will grow with it. Like in the UK; some people are just mediators/master mediators, and they earn quite a lot of money for doing what they do, but in Nigeria, they are not just there yet.

To hear the full version of episode 12, click here.



International Bar Association,  Caroline Etuk <www.ibanet.org accessed  11th February 2021.

Chinwe Stella Umegbolu, Dispensation of Justice: Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse as a Case Study. (Ongoing research at the University of Brighton 2018-2021) accessed 8th February 2021.


Enugu State High Court Rules 2020




Careers in ADR with Mrs Ronke Koku.

Seasoned Mediator- Mrs Ronke Koku



In this episode of EVA, I raised the following questions:

a) How did you start your Journey as an ADR Practitioner to be precise Mediator?

b) Can anyone be a mediator?

c) Do mediators require a formal education?

d) Do mediators need to be knowledgeable in Psychology?

e) How do you plan your sessions?

d)  What is the meaning of Pre-Mediation Session and Caucusing?

f)  How do you get difficult parties to open up during Mediation?

g) What models of mediation do you use?

h) Which is simpler- mediation or litigation?

i) What is your advice for people who want to start a career in Mediation or ADR?

I had the opportunity to discuss the questions above with Mrs Efunronke Omolara Koku, a notary public of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who learnt the ropes of the legal profession from her late father Josiah Akinola, a profound legal icon. She incorporated Ronke Somefun & Company Legal Practitioners and later built a career in Alternative Dispute Resolution. She is a qualified International Accredited Mediator from the Dispute Resolution Centre, Bond University, Australia, an International and Cross-Cultural Negotiator, ESSEC Business School, an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom (Nigeria branch), and a member of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators. Some of the organisations she had provided mediation training are the staff of Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Additionally, she organises training courses in workplace mediation, family mediation, peer mediation, and youth development programs. Her passion for empowering the youths in any way possible led her to establish ‘The Doors Empowerment and Initiative’, an NGO whose aims/objectives include, but not limited to, preparing the Youths for the future through motivational Talks and skilful careers, amongst other projects. She believes that if the transition of a child to adulthood is not well managed, a great tendency that such child will fall prey to negative peer pressure, the effect of which will be devastating on the society. Some public schools and tertiary institutions in Lagos state have benefited from this initiative.

Her book, “Stand out or Blend in” … an insight into peer pressure helps the thinking and behavioural pattern of youths on how to resist peer pressure. She believes mediation skills are 21st-century weapons to handle present-day behavioural attitudes. Through her encouraging words and book, many persons are better equipped today.

Finally, her love for sports led her to start a Sports career; she is currently a Sports and Society Facilitator and an Accredited Sports Marketer.



This essay set out to understand an established ADR practitioner’s view and experience. Hitherto, aims to enlighten people on pursuing a first career in ADR and in what best ways to pursue that. Hence, the invitation of a seasoned ADR practitioner who has forged a career path in the subject matter to tell her story in a bid to inform or encourage other people to start a career in ADR.
How she started her journey as a Mediator:

Mrs Ronke pointed out that she got to know the depth of mediation through a senior learned colleague, an accredited mediator, Mrs Shola Adekpemire, who advised her and one other friend to pick up ADR as a career. Interestingly, that same year they approached Mrs Adeyinka Aroyewun the Director of LMDC, who immediately referred them to ongoing training by the Negotiation & Conflict Management Group International (NCMG International) in conjunction with the Bond University Australia. After the training, Mrs Ronke started mediating cases for the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC) Lagos State Nigeria, and later started giving speeches at seminars, particularly in peer mediation.

She vividly remembered the venue of her first speech, which was at the Lagos State University (ADR session) on peer mediation. Within a few years, she was appointed by the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) as a mediator to handle a variety of cases. Later on, she incorporated her own ADR firm with her partner’s help; they started handling ADR cases.


Can anyone be a Mediator?
She responded that anyone can be a mediator as long as they go through the training.  Having a formal education and training is essential and compulsory to be a professional mediator.  More so, doing the training makes a difference, particularly in handling parties confidentiality, which is a binding force in mediation.
How do you get difficult parties to open up during Mediation?
She revealed that before the pre-mediation session or during the session, a mediator must have known / ought to know the four temperaments tests. Once they know these temperaments then they can handle difficult parties.
Do mediators have to be knowledgeable in Psychology?
It is imperative to have a certificate or training in psychology to be a good mediator. Nevertheless, that does not mean that mediators who do not have certifications or training in psychology are not good.

How do you plan your Mediation Session?

The parties determine what time they will want their session to hold. However, I introduce the participants, outline the mediation process and lay down ground rules to guide the process.  


Which is simpler Mediation or Litigation?

Every case is unique, and it requires its own approach to find an efficient and favourable outcome. Mediation has its advantage and litigation has its advantage. However, without any bias, in modern times, people try to avoid litigation. It is time-consuming, unpredictable, expensive, and until a judge decides a case, parties can never be sure of the outcome.

Personally, I prefer Mediation because it is faster, more straightforward, and reduces the court’s dockets. It is imperative to point out that in Lagos State, almost all lawsuits are required to be mediated before going to the trial. However, not all cases can be mediated.


What is your advice for people that want to become a Mediator and for potential users?

Like any other career, one can make good living being a mediator. Every mediator’s joy is to settle the parties amicably – there is no greater feeling than the satisfaction that the mediator gets from helping people resolve their disputes.
In essence, everyone can be a mediator, there is good money in it, but they must be committed, have the passion, and have a listening ear; effective listening is the greatest weapon of a mediator.

This essay has discussed the reasons for pursuing a career in ADR, and to be precise, mediation. It also highlighted that the narratives are changing for the present generation; more people in Nigeria and other jurisdictions like the United Kingdom, America and Australia are moving towards mediation and starting up their first career or changing their careers to ADR.
To hear the full version of this episode, click here.





Art Hinshaw,  ADR as a First Career (Mediate.com 2014) <https://www.mediate.com/articles/HinshawAbl20140905.cfm> accessed 28th January 2021.




Adjudication v Arbitration – Two Worlds Apart?




I was thrilled to welcome Mr Kelly Agbonze, a Legal Practitioner who was called to the Nigerian Bar more than twelve (12) years ago. He has handled many cases in Arbitration and Litigation. In this EVA episode, we threw more light on the following questions – a) What is dispute resolution? b) Why, Adjudication? c) What are the differences between Adjudication and Arbitration? This last question stems from the arguments in some reviewed literature where some scholars have highlighted the resemblance and differences between them.




Why, Adjudication?


The Umbrella that holds Dispute Resolution-Litigation

Before defining what Dispute Resolution means, we first looked at what Adjudication is. We pointed out that Adjudication generally refers to the process of decision making, involving neutral third parties who have been vested with authorities either by the state or by the parties under an agreement in an arbitration to determine a binding or deliver a binding resolution through the form of Judgement or award. In other words, there is the court-based or out of court based Adjudication.

We elucidated that Court-based Adjudication is known as Litigation or Dispute Resolution, an involuntary adversarial process wherein the state vests the court with powers to make binding win or lose outcomes. It encompasses court processes to resolve the dispute according to the court’s rules. On the other hand, Arbitration is a private method of Dispute Resolution or in other words, Alternative Dispute Resolution by which the parties under an agreement appoints either a sole arbitrator or a multi-arbitrators arrangement. Under this arrangement, there are many advantages.


 The  Similarities between Adjudication and Arbitration: 

We pointed out that there are similarities and differences between them, but we first outlined what joins them together before examining what separates them. Thus, some of these similarities are as follows:


a) Decisions Delivered:

The ultimate aim of the two procedures is to have a decision delivered at the end of the day by the judge or the arbitrator- providing a final decision to parties and resolving the dispute between them. With the sole aim of having a decision given at the end of the day. It could either be called a Judgement or an award. 

b) The Involvement of a Third Neutral Party:

The second similarity is the involvement of a neutral third party- the parties appoint the arbitrator for Arbitration under an enforceable agreement. The arbitrator has full control over the arbitration proceedings’ content. Conversely, the judge is appointed by the state and vested with coercive powers to make far-reaching decisions. It is pertinent to point out that they are other dispute resolution- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which mainly comprises Mediation, Conciliation and Negotiation. These enlisted processes involve a neutral third party that mediates or seeks to deliver a decision except for Negotiation; parties can choose to have no neutral third party.  

c) Outcome Approach: Win-Lose:

The third one is the outcome approach under this; both procedures are usually a win or lose outcome. We went further to explain what these mean- that parties do not go to Arbitration or litigation, and the arbitrator or judge will hand a win-win to them. Unlike in Conciliation, Mediation and Negotiation, there is win-win for parties involved. The enlisted similarities are what ties these two procedures together. 

It is important to note that there are a couple of other similarities; though few. However, they are tied around the similarities mentioned above; thus, this discourse has focused on the three most significant similarities between them. 


The Differences between Adjudication and Arbitration

a) Confidentiality:

In Arbitration, the fact that the processes, content and outcome of an arbitral procedure are confidential and kept private; that is why many business people favour Arbitration against litigation. However, this is never the case in litigation-  the procedure and the court’s judgment are all in the public view.  

b) Involvement of Parties:

In Arbitration, parties have full control of selecting their arbitrators, the venue, and the procedural rules, amongst others, but this is against what we have in the regular court. The court determines the rules and the parties have no say in it.  


C) Fewer Formalities: 

 Arbitration is less formal as against the rigid procedures in litigation. For instance, in litigation, the rule says that a party can only plead the material facts, not the evidence. However, under Arbitration –section 256 of the Evidence Act expressly prohibits applying the evidence act for arbitral procedures, which means that the arbitrator has the flexible know how to determine the evidence that should be accepted.

For example, in litigation, the court says that this public document was not certified and because it was not certified, the lawyer cannot tender it. However, in Arbitration, the arbitrator is interested in the document’s relevance, and if it is relevant, the arbitrator will accept it. 

d) The Structure :

We highlighted that the court is permanent-its always there- always open for parties. However, the arbitral tribunal comes and goes. In other words, it is based on the parties appointment under an enforceable agreement, so it goes into oblivion/ sleep after determining a particular matter. On the other hand, a judge, of course, derives its coercive powers from the state and delivers far-reaching decisions. For the arbitrator, he does not have the state’s coercive power. 


This essay critically examined the similarities and differences between the two procedures. Furthermore, it revealed what potential users of both procedures should consider if their matter can be arbitrated or litigated. 

To hear the full version of this episode, click here.



Blake, Susan, Browne, Julie, Sime, Stuart, A Practical Approach to Alternative Dispute Resolution (2nd Ed, Oxford University Press 2012)

Evidence Act of Nigeria, 2011

The LMDC Journey under the leadership of Mrs Adeyinka Aroyewun


Mrs Adeyinka Aroyewun-Director of LMDC.



I was delighted to welcome Mrs Adeyinka Aroyewun, the Director and Member of the Governing Council at the (LMDC); an International Mediator of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), United Kingdom (UK), Member of the Charted Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) UK.  She has mediated over seventy (70) disputes and has gained experience in a comprehensive range of disputes, such as Commercial Disputes, Financial/Banking, Property, Employment and Family Disputes. In this episode of EVA, we critically discussed the following questions – What prompted the birth of the LMDC in the Nigerian Judicial Landscape? What are the advantages of using the LMDC and its impact so far? How does the Court-Connected ADR work? How can parties commence or initiate matters at the LMDC? With the recent challenges faced at the LMDC, what is the resultant effect of these challenges or occurrence?

We concluded by touching on these challenges caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic and END SARS peaceful protest hijacked by hoodlums, which led to the burning down of LMDC. Despite these challenges, the LMDC has continued to render services remotely to their users.

Keywords: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Multi-Door Courthouse, LMDC, ODR, Access to Justice, Court-Connected ADR, COVID-19 pandemic, END SARS.




To properly appreciate the circumstances that warranted the indigenous masterstroke intervention that the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse is today, we painted a vivid picture of the Justice System before having the LMDC there.

Before the emergence of LMDC, the Nigerian Judicial system was not in a desirable state. Hitherto, the acknowledged means of dispute resolution was litigation. It reigned this adversarial culture in the consciousness of the citizenry by default, that once a dispute ensues the average person knows no better option than to resort to litigation.  As a result, the tremendous growth in the population, coupled with the increase with enlightenment, business activities, and the litigation culture’s fixation, and it was only inevitable that caseload will take an upper turn and spiral out of control.

However, not many would have predicted an alarming rate at which judicial caseload was overflowing, and judges could not single-handedly cope with the unenviable challenge despite their best effort. For instance, a Judge in the Lagos State Judiciary reported a thousand cases in her docket, which existed some cases that had spent twenty-nine years in court.

Inordinate delay and an irredeemable backlog of cases were inevitable with this kind of scenario in the grand scheme of things. Confidence was lost in the system, and it also took a toll on the Lordships as parties were driven asunder even before the judicial pronouncement. So, in a bid to help out with the Lagos Judicial system and keep with the global trends, the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), notably the Multi-Door Courthouse (MDC) as an institutional repository of ADR mechanisms was mooted by the Harvard Professor Frank Sander and expounded upon at the 1976 Dean Roscoe Pound Conference.

On the other hand, what the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group (NCMG) founded by Mr Kehinde Aina – did was to spearhead this MDC concept and make it a reality in Africa with the collaboration of the Lagos State Judiciary the dream became a reality on June 11th  2002. The LMDC became the first Court-connected ADR Center in Africa. We then delve deeper into some of the specific elements and advantages that constitute the LMDC while highlighting its impact so far.


We elucidated that though the LMDC has not reached its desired height, publicity is not as much as they would want it to be. They also have the challenges of settling all disputes but found out that it is not possible as they cannot settle everything. However, we pointed out that some measures of progress have been made in about seventeen (17) years of existence. It is pertinent to point out that the LMDC are the touch bearers, the trailblazer, the first of its breed and because of that, other States of the Federation of Nigeria have followed suit.


Pioneering Role of the LMDC

We revealed for the first time one of the impacts the LMDC has made is that it triggered a phase of replication base by various States. For example, Abuja, Enugu, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Cross River, Delta, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Ondo, Bayelsa, Abia, Edo, Borno and Katsina State. They all established their MDC following the Lagos State Model, and even in states where there are no MDC; there existed different kinds of ADR Institutions and Mediation Centres.

For these reasons, it is irrefutable to say that without the pioneering role of the LMDC none of the States would have ventured into doing something about ADR. This alone is a great testimony to the impact that the LMDC has made so far since its establishment.



Expanded Access to Justice:

Additionally, the LMDC has successfully established itself as a dependable and effective alternative litigation with the availability of access to justice through its dispute resolution patterns that are timely, cost-effective and user-friendly. Thus, the arrival of the LMDC has expanded access to justice in Lagos State and changed the judiciary’s face forever. The courthouses have now been transformed into a one-stop dispute resolution centre where a dispute has a real choice from different mechanisms, including litigation.


The High Court Civil (H.C) Procedure Rules 2019 Review: 

Subsequently, during the (H.C) Civil Procedure 2019 review, the LMDC suggested making the High Court Registry a one-stop dispute resolution centre. That is, if parties come to the High Court Registry, from that point, they can let them know whether it is litigation or mediation or negotiation that is suitable in resolving their respective disputes.

Undoubtedly, the (H.C) of Lagos Civil Procedural Rules established the ADR track in December 2012, the ADR track in the Ikeja Judicial Division, the ADR track in the Lagos Judicial Divisions and all the cases coming directly from the High Court will be screened by the LMDC. Once determined, it is stamped, and the parties will have to come to the MDC to be heard.



Timeliness is one of the impacts of the LMDC on other States. Though there is still room for improvement, several mediations took just one (1) or two (2) mediation sessions or sittings to resolve. For example, in the 2017 Lagos Settlement Week, a banking case in Court for about 26years was settled at two (2) mediation sittings. Then a banking case with a claim of over 1.6 Billion Naira equivalent to 3,067.66 Pounds Sterling was settled in two (2) mediation sittings. Conversely, a case for dissolution of marriage was taken, and both parties withdrew their Petitions and Reliefs. In the same 2017 settlement week, about 4.5 Billion Naira equivalent to 8,637.82 Pounds Sterling monetary claims were recovered, representing about 14% of resolved matters.
However, in 2018 Settlement Week Programme, about 24.3 Billion Naira equivalent to 46,698,354.90 Pounds Sterling in monetary claims were recovered. Also, a case on the Administration of Estate has been in Court for nearly 29 years. However, it was settled in two (2) mediations sittings. Also, a banking case with a claim of over 1.8 Billion Naira equivalent to 3, 457,910.70 Pound Sterling was settled.

Following through, in 2016 and 2017 Settlement Week, 31.3 Billion Naira equivalent to 60,060,577.79 Pounds Sterling was recovered in claims, and also the LMDC impact can be gleaned from saving some legal fees. Management time for corporate litigants, court time, counsel time, the resources of the court, things like contingent reliability risk, reputational risk, other sheer inconveniences associated with serving litigation in financial terms, which we have computed with the colossal amount of savings made for the litigants in counsel and judicial system.


User Friendly:

With the help of the informality, the affairs of the Courthouse has played a huge role in ensuring a user-friendly and affordable LMDC, where parties who are unable to afford the services of the LMDC can apply for fee review or even pro-bono. It is essential to point out the LMDC has never turned away indigent disputants, unlike in litigation where parties will have to struggle with the high cost.


Preserves Relationship:

We highlighted another significant aspect of the LMDC: it preserves the relationship of the parties from the onset, unlike litigation where the battle line is drawn and the parties, their respective businesses, social and other various relationship are ruptured. However, there is credible, intense competition for business retention and securing of more clients in this age of globalisation rather than lose out in this respect. LMDC has done well in resolving disputes, but also in reconciling parties. They desire great fulfilment from seeing either two or more estranged parties now coming to an agreement, shake hands and continue with their business relationship, and that is what litigation cannot give. Even more so, when the parties resolve their respective disputes via litigation, oftentimes, the relationship might not be as cordial as it was before.



There are about three main reasons why the LMDC is referred to as a Court-Connected dispute resolution centre – which is as follows:

1)  It is situated in the High Court (H.C) of Lagos;

2)  The Judges and the magistrates get to refer their cases;

3)  Even with the walk-in cases that are not referred by the Judge when the parties sign the Terms of Settlement (TOS), it is sent to the ADR Judges, and they will enter it and endorse it as a Consent Judgement in Court. The above-stated submission is the reason why the LMDC is referred to as a Court-Connectivity or Court-connected ADR.




On how parties can initiate matters at the LMDC, we pointed out that these can be done in three ways-

Court Referral: Both a High Court Judge or Magistrate refer cases to the LMDC.

Walk-Ins: A Party can walk-in to the LMDC and initiate matters.

Validating the above-stated position is Section 4 of the LMDC Law 2007. Once parties that settled in other institutions reach the TOA, they can bring it to the LMDC through the ADR Judge, who will enter it as a Consent Judgement.


Direct Intervention:

In this category, the LMDC can directly intervene in cases or matters of high public interest. For instance, maybe strikes amongst others, the LMDC can intervene and write a letter to the people concerned, as well as to the government and invite the parties to come to negotiate their matters at the MDC.



Prior to the COVID-19, the LMDC provided virtual interactions but had done that on a small scale but with the pandemic made it glaring and apparent that the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) needed to go full scale. It resulted in the online dispute getting more intensity, especially as a result of the pandemic. The parties have embraced that idea being in their homes’ comfort and safety and simultaneously engaging in the dispute resolution process. The success story has already been recorded since they commenced the resolution of a dispute. Therefore, it could hold that the ODR has many benefits – save costs and does not require the parties involved to travel.

Suffix to say that the LMDC staff had to stay at home. When parties initiate the online dispute process, it is immediately linked to the LMDC website, as well as the ODR guidelines and requirement for mediators, because it is important that mediators understood ODR and understood how it operates. They also scheduled ODR practice sessions on zoom for their mediators and parties before they mediate to ensure a qualitative and seamless ODR mediation process. Additionally, they organised a general ODR facilitation training mediation certification course in collaboration with the ODR Court and ODR Europe for their mediators. They also held an online demonstration ODR process, emailed demo videos to their mediators, especially those requiring further assistance with technology and reviewed the LMDC Practice Direction on Mediation Procedure and ODR Mediation; this then gave it legal backing. It is fair to say that the LMDC embraced the new normal and maintained constant communication with the mediators with the online qualitative experience requirements. They need to have a laptop or tablet, data and practice peer review. Thus, at the end of the whole rigorous training, the LMDC mediators were certified in online mediation.

It is pertinent to point out that the LMDC has covered 30 to 40 cases since August 2020, though more claims are being handled as they commenced the first online settlement month in Africa on 7th December 2020 which is still ongoing at the time of this writing. However, the target was to meditate 500 cases online, but due to the usual challenges – network and data are yet to be achieved.
Given these challenges, the LMDC were resilient and surmounted these challenges by ensuring that they had a seamless qualitative process during the Settlement Month (SM) in December, though was initially scheduled in November. However, the hoodlums that hijacked the END SARS protest made this impossible. As they broke into the LMDC offices, looted and took away all the computer systems, printers, photocopiers and other equipment while the office was set ablaze.

In furtherance, the main ADR Unit was totally destroyed, ranging from the reception, the registry, the accounts section, the data unit; everything was burnt to the ground. Nevertheless, the LMDC persevered, as it carried on with work remotely, refusing to get deterred by such an act.

Currently, the LMDC no longer have an office at Igbosere because it was burnt down, but the ADR track office at Ikeja is still there. However, one of their mediators was kind enough to allow them to use part of her office- that is where they started with the ongoing Online Settlement Month (OSM). Hence, publicity was not as much as they would want it because the whole building was burnt down.




In this work, we provided a detailed account of the concept behind the birth of the LMDC, past, the present journey, advantages, and impact on other states.
Consequently, with the level of advantages and impact revealed in this work, the LMDC is a success story notwithstanding the above-stated challenges, as the scheme has continued to render services remotely to their users. Given this, we encourage potential user or users to file their cases via the Online Settlement Month (OSM) within the comfort of their homes.

To hear the full version of this episode, click here and for more information on the OSM, visit the website of the LMDC and Instagram page.



Chinwe Stella Umegbolu, Episode 9: The LMDC Journey under the leadership of Mrs Adeyinka Aroyewun,
<https://anchor.fm/chinwe1/episodes/Episode-9-The-LMDC-Journey-under-the-leadership-of-Mrs-Adeyinka-Aroyewun-eoac1b> accessed 28th December 2020

Chinwe Stella Egbunike- Umegbolu, Dispensation of Justice: The  Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) as a Case Study (Ongoing-research at the University of Brighton 2018-2021) 89.

Adeyinka, Aroyewun, Mediation Profile, International Mediation Institute (IMI) <https://imimediation.org/member/adeyinka-aroyewun/> accessed 27th December 2020

LMDC Law 2007

LMDC Law 2015

Rule 28 of the High Court Rules of 2019


Top Tips for finding or choosing the Right Mediator

I was thrilled to welcome Mrs Nnezi Miriam Ivenso, a lawyer with 13 (thirteen) years, post -qualification experience in active legal practice including Litigation, ADR and Corporate Commercial Practice. She holds a master’s degree in Law Financial Services from the University of London, a certified Mediator, enlisted as a Neutral with the Enugu State Multi-Door Courthouse (ESMDC) as well as an Associate Member of the Charted Institute of Arbitrators, (CIArb), United Kingdom. In this episode of Expert Views on ADR (EVA), the following questions were posed and dealt with – what is Mediation, what are the criteria for finding or hiring the right Mediator? Finally, the third question posed- ‘whether the mediators are allowed to use only the facilitative or evaluative Mediation, or can they use a combination of the two mediation styles?

We concluded by touching on the essential elements and features of Mediation while at the same time indicating the importance of finding the right Mediator.


Key terms:  Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, United Kingdom,  Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, Nigeria.




We understand that some people are not very clear on what Mediation means. They are common misconceptions on what Mediation is. For these reasons, we defined the term mediation with the hope that the outlined definition from two credible mediation institutes would assist potential users and disputants understand Mediation better.


Definition of Mediation?

The LMDC law 2007, defined “mediation as a voluntary process for resolving disputes with the assistance of a neutral third party who facilitates that dialogue between disputing parties and it helps them privately and collectively to identify the issues in disputes, reach the settlement of this disputes and mutually accept the settlements.”

On the other hand, CEDR defined “mediation as a flexible process conducted confidentially in which a neutral person actively assists parties in working towards a negotiated agreement of a dispute or a difference with the parties in ultimate control of the decision to settle and the terms of the agreement (TOA).”

The sentiments expressed in both quotation embodies the various features and elements of Mediation while capturing the concept of Mediation. We went on to highlight them and give a brief explanation of what each means as it will help potential users and disputants understand what meditation means.


1)   The Features and Elements of Mediation


Flexible Process: 

This means that contrary to the strict formal procedures or process that parties would ordinarily follow in litigation, in Mediation, this is the opposite, there is no formal procedure to be followed. Thus flexibility is one of the main factors that attract litigants and disputants to the meditation process because people feel confined especially where there is a strict formal procedure, thus many times in litigation- they sacrifice justice at the altar of technicality.



The mediation session’s entire process is confidential and without prejudice because parties are given the opportunity to sign the confidentiality clause. In most cases, the confidentiality clause serves as an incentive for making the parties open up and disclose the underlying issues inherent in the matter. That ordinarily they would not have disclosed (if it were in litigation) which most times are the root cause that triggered or led to the disagreement in the first place.


The Neutrality of the Mediator: 

There is neutrality on the part of the Mediator who is the one assisting the parties. To restate the Mediator is a neutral third party and he stays impartial and unbiased, does not take sides, and just helps the parties reach an agreement. Essentially, what the Mediator does is to assist the parties in working towards a negotiated agreement- this aspect also reflected in the definition of Mediation. However, there is also, a further point to be considered the mediators do not propose an agreement. The parties are the ones who decide what they want as opposed to litigation, where a decision is imposed on the litigants. Thus, in Mediation, the parties are in ultimate control of the process, and they also determine the outcome of whether or not they will be an agreement?

Undoubtedly, because of that, the parties are more likely to uphold the terms or abound by the Terms of Agreement (TOA) reached because they reached the agreement themselves. The discussion in the preceding paragraph has indicated that mediators do not impose any suggestions or decisions; instead, they facilitate communication between the parties. Nevertheless, if one puts that vis litigation, there are so many benefits that meditation has though, this is not to say that litigation is not without its benefits.


Cost and Speed: 

However, there are times that litigation is not an effective tool or route to take to settle disputes. For instance, some matters have been in court (20) twenty years or (30) thirty years. In some cases the original parties are deceased, and their children or grandchildren will carry on with the case which must have cost the deceased a fortune and eventually the children.

Given these points, Mediation is faster and cost-effective, because, in most cases under the mediation process, parties settle within a day or two days.


The Interest of the parties is Protected: 

We also pointed out that under Mediation the interest of the parties is well protected unlike in litigation that is more focused on enforcing the letters of the law and the reason is that the court can only give effect to the original intent of the parties, however, the problem with this is that the original intent might with the passage of time changes in circumstances. It may not accurately represent the parties’ needs and interest when the disputes occurred.


Preserves Relationship: 

We ascribed the above-mentioned subtheme as the selling point of Mediation as there is no adversarial tune to Mediation as opposed to litigation/ court where there is a loser or victor. However, in Mediation, the decision or agreement reached is usually one that both parties are comfortable with.


We illustrate that with Professor Goodman’s analogy- he stated ‘that they are two sisters who lived together and wanted to cook different meals. However, they both wanted to use orange in preparing these different meals. However, there is a problem with that because there is only one orange in the house, and they both needed the whole orange. Ordinarily, if this matter was taken to court, the court will rule that the orange be divided into two so each can get one to use. The problem with that is that half an orange will not make either of the meals they want to prepare. However, in Mediation, which deals with the parties’ interest, there is common ground- they both have an overlapping interest: one of the sisters only needs the orange to make an orange juice while the other needs the orange rind to prepare a marmalade. So the sister that needs the juice can say ‘okay let me squeeze out the juice, and you can have the rind of the orange ‘and vice versa.’

Against this backdrop, in Mediation, parties can make concessions and compromise. In other words, there are no losers or winners in the mediation process. Instead, it is a win-win situation for both parties. The parties go home happy. It is essential to point out that we also revealed that under the International Mediation Institute (IMI). They have this open feedback digest in their Mediator’s profiles where the previous parties can pen down or leave their feedback on their mediators’ performance instead of the recommendation or short biographies captured by the mediators or institutional bodies. We agreed that this is a reasonable practice and a good practice as it has the same effect as a review. However, at the same time, we pointed out that it has a drawback or a disadvantage. Some recalcitrant parties or difficulty parties can leave horrible comments that would affect the mediators, or the institutes practise.


2)  The Criteria for choosing or finding the right Mediator:

In furtherance, to the whole process, parties must find a mediator that is the right fit for the particular disputes that they are trying to resolve because for a mediation to be successful, it is vital that the parties can trust the Mediator and that they are comfortable around the Mediator.

For instance, in the Multi-Door Courthouses, when a dispute is referred to them, they choose the Mediator from the panel of neutral that they have or find the most suitable Mediator to handle the matter and the mediators are to sign a disclosure form indicating if there is a conflict of interest and if there is then they will appoint another mediator for the party. Though that does not stop the parties from indicating the Mediator that they would want to mediate their matter, in some cases, the parties with the help of their lawyers would choose the mediators they want. In so doing, they have to consider certain things. Some of the criteria that parties can take into consideration when finding or choosing the right Mediator are as follows:


a) Area of Practice: 


The party should find out how much experience the Mediator has in that particular area of dispute. For instance, if it is a family dispute or a work-based dispute, they would want to know if the Mediator has handled those kinds of disputes in the past and then follow that up.

b) Experience: 

It makes sense for parties actually to want an experienced mediator. Having an experienced mediator is vital for resolving disputes expeditiously. In other words, if the parties can ascertain how many cases the Mediator has handled and how many were successful, then that would save them cost and time.


c) Professional Training:

Another crucial consideration is the professional training for mediators. Parties should look at for or ask for the type of training that a mediator has had in the past. For instance, has the Mediator received a formal professional mediation training and for how long? Did the training the Mediator undertake met the international standard? What type of certification does he or she have? These questions are fundamental, and an upshot from this subtheme is the Mediator’s educational background or professional background.


d) Mediator’s Educational / Professional Background: 

We pointed out that some parties are more comfortable with an engineer handling their matter if, for instance, they have a dispute centred on or around construction, they will feel more confidant or comfortable if the Mediator has a first degree in civil engineering.


e) Subject Matter Expertise:

This subtheme is related to the aforementioned first consideration and professional background. One of the focal points here is that parties need to determine if the Mediator is an expert in the particular area of the dispute that has arisen or if he has the necessary knowledge of that particular industry. Because in some situations, the specific knowledge of that particular industry can make the mediation process more efficient. Though this is a bit objective, people who believe subject matter expertise are not of primary importance generally but except in specialised areas like environmental disputes, maritime, and very technical disputes. Now, asides that they are some other people who believe that is not important at all- whether the Mediator has the subject matter expertise as long as the Mediator is well trained in Mediation and has an experience as a mediator.

However, it is actually up to the parties to determine whether or not the subject matter expertise is essential because they know or better understand the disputes than anyone else.


d) The Mediation Philosophy or Approach employed by the Mediator:

We agreed that they are different approaches that mediators can employ or use, and in the same vein, some mediators are passive and they guide the parties, while some mediators are not. Thus the mediators can employ different styles, so parties should consider the different approaches and see what works best for their matter and choose accordingly.



3) Whether the mediators are allowed to use only the facilitative or evaluative Mediation, or can the mediators use a combination of the two meditation styles?

We pointed out that there are different types of mediation styles/ philosophy or approach. Nevertheless, in regards to this discourse, we concentrated on facilitative and evaluative. We also indicated that it boils down to the disputes’ nature in some cases, the Mediator might prefer to employ both of them or employ one of them.



We concluded that valid points raised in this discourse are crucial factors that would nudge potential users and disputants to Mediation. We also identified that finding the right Mediator is essential for resolving disputes expeditiously and effectively because making a mistake in choosing the wrong Mediator could affect the desired outcome.

Finally, once disputants have made a wise decision about their Mediator’s choice. It is to be noted that they must bear in mind that the process is entirely voluntary; hence they can choose to disengage from the process as long as they have not signed the Terms of Agreement (TOA).


To hear the full version of this episode, click here.



The LMDC Law 2007

CEDR Mediation Handbook, 7th edition.

Professor Andrew Goodman, Orange Analogy cited at the Enugu State Multi-door Courthouse: Mediation Advocacy & ODR Awareness for Lawyers webinar held on the 30th September 2020.

International Mediation Institute (IMI) <https://imimediation.org/resources/background/choosing-right-mediator/> accessed 22nd December 2020

Chinwe Umegbolu,  Why Mediation? A Critical Review.”  (Research Gate 2019)