The Similarities between the Customary Arbitration and the Modern-day Arbitration

 

 

 

Abstract

I was thrilled to welcome Mr Johnson Amaechi, a practising lawyer in Nigeria and a graduate of the renowned Obafemi Awolowo University. We extensively discussed the following questions: ‘What is the concept or philosophy behind the Customary Arbitration’?

This question predicates the 5th Episode of Expert Views on ADR (EVA) where Mr IK Onuoma and I highlighted that they are two forms of Arbitration in Nigeria.  The discussion leads to the second question ‘What is the current development of Arbitration in Nigeria.’

 

Introduction

What is the Philosophy or Concept behind the Customary Arbitration?

We pointed out that the concept behind the customary arbitration in Nigeria dates as far back as even the formal organisation and reorganisation of Nigeria space. That is before the amalgamation of the three protectorates. They had a dispute resolution mechanisms within those colonies and even after amalgamation, for instance, in the Eastern part of Nigeria where every family had the head of families oversees the activities of the entire family, and it cuts across eastern part till date. The head of the family or the traditional head of the community sits as what is now known as an arbitrator or mediator when there are disputes within those communities or villages.

 

What is the Current State of Customary Arbitration in Nigeria

Similarly, we revealed that they had the same situation in the western part of Nigeria (the Yoruba’s), this community were led by the traditional head known as an Oba, Olubadan or the Baale – he sits as the mediator or arbitrator to settle many disputes amongst his people. This customary or traditional system was the only means of settling disputes before the court system was introduced during the colonisation of Nigeria.

It is pertinent to point out that the palace where the Oba lives is the seat of arbitration, so this practice was re-introduced as the modern-day ADR to help settle matters due to the problems associated with the court system. However, in some communities in Nigeria to be precise Enugu State, they still have the customary courts and even have the customary courts of appeal where the appeal from the customary courts goes to, even after the institutionalisation of arbitration in Nigeria. They still practice that traditional or customary method of settling disputes, and we went on to mention that the concept of law and justice under the traditional method of settling a dispute is rooted in the spirit of oneness and in the concept of togetherness-Ubuntu which connotes “I am because you are.”

 

Conclusion

In this episode, we reaffirmed the notion that there are two forms of arbitration in Nigeria; the first is the customary arbitration; the second one is the modern-day arbitration. The earlier is determined by ‘omenala’ (the customs and tradition of the land) while the modern rules of arbitration govern the latter. We believe that the potential users that would listen to the full podcast would appreciate the attributes of the customary arbitration which overlaps or is the same with the modern-day arbitration and will not hesitate to try out arbitration or insert it in their contract agreement.

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

 

References

Maria Federica Moscati, Michael Palmer,  Marian Roberts (eds), Comparative Dispute Resolution; Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020. p.519

Jerome, Barrett, Joseph Barrett, A History of Alternative Dispute Resolution: The Story of a Political, Cultural, and Social Movement (Published in Affiliation with the Association for Conflict Resolution 2004) p.5

Chinwe Umegbolu, Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: The Facts of Divorce as They Stand Today (Journal Resolution Institute March 2020).

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

The Psychological Dynamics in Dispute Resolution: the interplay between the id, ego, superego and apology, through the lens view of Sigmund Freud

 

 

 

Abstract

Is there an interplay between ego and apology, which are two sides of a coin when it comes to dispute resolution? I and Estar (Esther)  Olaedo Ebigbo, a First Class graduate of psychology from the University of Nigeria, who works with persons with disabilities; an inspirational singer, provided a comprehensive insight into the above-stated question. We also dealt with ‘whether people can have a subject matter bias’? The reason for this question predicates the 5th Episode of EVA where we discussed that some lawyers are yet to embrace ADR.

 

Introduction 

 

Definition of Ego

To have an insight into the above subject matter, we foregrounded the definition of ego.

The ego is a Greek word for eimi.[1] We elucidated that the ego can be described as a person’s sense of self, their sense of identity, their sense of importance and self-esteem.[2]   We validated the above submission with  Sigmund Freud’s theory-he is one of the founding fathers of Psychology, psychoanalysis to be précised.[3]

According to Freud, the ego is part of the mind that takes a decision, precisely there are three parts of the mind, which are the id, ego and superego.[4]  Thus the ego is the part of the mind that is instinctual, biologically is that part of the individual that drives the desires, their wants irrespective of the consequence.[5] However, to understand the ego, one needs to understand the id and superego, The ego operates on an unconscious level and the superego, on the other hand, is made up of the individual morals, values, upbringing, social norms and expectations.[6]

We went on to analyse the superego, which has two components the conscious and the ideal self. The conscious is that part of an individual that makes him feel guilty when they do something inappropriate- the ideal self is that imaginary perfect self, of whom one who ought to be. These constitute the superego; it takes decision by negotiating between the id and the superego.  For instance, if an individual likes sweet things and he goes past a candy store or an ice cream truck, and he wants to get the ice cream, then the superego reminds him that sugar is not good for him. What does the ego do? The ego thinks about what is actually best for an individual.[7] The person’s ego might say ‘just for today let me have one cone of ice cream that is the ego. It is that part of the mind that thinks and takes decisions. So in psychological terms, that is what the ego is and so when one talks about an apology. An apology appeals to the superego component of the mind where a person’s conscious and ideal person lies.

 

Apology

We delved into how an apology appeals to the superego component of the mind where a person’s conscious and ideal person lies-[8] thus the person does not want to be a jerk; he wants to be a nice person. He wants to show compassion and understanding. For example, where a victim of a crime offers the offender an apology especially when it is genuine, the person’s superego will be able to exact influence on the ego, and most times the person’s ego will say ‘I am going to let it go.’ Another example, if Mrs AC says sorry to Mr AC, Mr AC’s Conscience will feel guilty if he does not accept especially if it is genuine. In order words, it is his ego- that accepts or mellows down at least.

In view of this, we pointed out that in litigation when people are fighting, they do not hear each other. However, mediation offers that opportunity to sit down with each other, and if they have an excellent mediator, they will be able to listen, hear each other out. A lot of bottled up emotions, aggression, anger and frustration, can let out. Now one party can see the other party and vice versa. They will be able to acknowledge each other and understand where they are coming from, which is important for the ego because when the parties are fighting the ego is bruised, and it is threatened. Thus, the ego pumps itself up and is ready to receive blows and give blows. So when a party has an apology coming is like soothing to the ego, it’s like a release, it disarms that threatened and bruised ego.

Furthermore, even if one cannot achieve an immediate result like settlements or reconciliation, but at least they can come to a state where parties are more willing to address the fact. For instance, if Mr XM is arguing blindly, then the person’s ego is telling the person if he agrees with let’s say, Mr XY, then he is a loser, or he is stupid. He will keep arguing until he comes to a stage where that ego can function a bit more in a healthy way.

In other words, he drops the unhealthy way of reasoning and will be able to let his guard down then he can focus on solving the problem at hand. That goes a long way in making the mediation process a successful one and resolves the matter. So even when they do not resolve or reconcile they have aired their views, they know how their actions have impacted the other party, and have talked about it and know what happened and they can do better next time, it must not always end in settlement. We used one word to describe it therapeutic -is therapeutic, and it is healing. Hence, in mediation, the mediator and the opposing parties all have all levels of emotional maturity however we pointed out, that if the mediator is dealing with a psychopath; it is impossible to achieve success. Reinforcing the view that there are cases where mediation works perfectly, and there are cases where litigation is the best fit. Evidently, the above subject matter will be of great help to both the lawyers and mediators in resolving disputes.

 

The second question raised is ‘Whether people can have a subject matter bias’? The reason for this question predicates the 5th Episode of EVA where we discussed that some lawyers are yet to embrace ADR. 

We provided a concise answer to the above question by pointing out that in life in general, there is bias everywhere, especially where someone is not yet familiar with the subject matter they tend to be biased. So the human mind is such that it takes something that it does not know and shoves it into one category in mind, and sometimes, this knowledge is inaccurate. Hence, the one that takes away bias beyond every other thing is a personal experience.[1] Thus the need to give people the opportunities to experience this new subject matter is through awareness.

However, we noted that social media can be used for reasons that are not so favourably in all circumstances, but it can be used as a platform for good. It can be used to create more awareness on the above subject matter that needs to be heard and learnt because it will have an impact on society.

Power of Education:

Another point mentioned was education, not just at the tertiary level but also at the primary level- when the kids are tender. They learn about the justice system and how they can get justice by going to court; the need to also include ADR into the curriculum as a compulsory course is vital. Because it creates a balanced story rather than a one-sided story as it is the case in some schools in most jurisdiction.

 

Training:

Furthermore, we highlighted that if more lawyers train in becoming mediators, then they will also create more opportunities to let their expertise to be known. Moreover, suppose the traditional leaders, religious leaders who have a substantial influence in the society can be able to give words of endorsement towards its usage. In that case, it can go a long way to sensitise the subject matter. Thus this is the enumerated factor that would take away or solve subject matter bias when it comes to lawyers embracing ADR.

 

Conclusion

To reiterate, there are disputes, which are more suited to ADR and not suited to litigation vice versa. However, there is a caveat for potential users –which is that litigation is designed to focus on issues rather than on interest. Though this is not to say or suggest that litigation is bad. Rather the focal point made here is that litigation should not be seen as the only option or as the best option. They are other available options under the ADR mechanism. Hence the psychological and emotional factors should be borne in mind when making a choice.

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

 

References:

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.

[1] Robin Hard, The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology Based on H.J.Rose’s Handbook of Greek Mythology (Published by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group 2004) p.4

[2] Thomas Metzinger, The
Ego Tunnel the science of the mind and the myth of the self (Published by Basic Books
2009) p.5

[3] Jerome Neu, The Cambridge Companion to Freud (Cambridge University Press, 2006) p.2

[4] Ibid (n2)

[5] Ibid (n3)

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid (n2)

[8] Susan Heitler, Therapeutic Mediation: An Alternative to Costly Litigation (Published by Colorado Lawyer 1998) p.4

Stuart Blake et al., A Practical Approach to Alternative Dispute Resolution  second edition oxford university press  2012

[1] Artika, Tyner, Unconscious Bias, Implicit Bias, and Microaggressions: What Can We Do about Them? (American bar association 2019) <https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/publications/gp_solo/2019/july-august/unconscious-bias-implicit-bias-microaggressions-what-can-we-do-about-them/> accessed 7th December 2020

 

What are the factors that could influence the selection of an ADR Option?

Abstract
In episode 5 of Expert Views on ADR (EVA) Podcast, two questions were raised, the first one was ‘what prompted the birth of the ESMDC’ and the second question was, ‘what could influence the selection of an ADR option’? 
I had the opportunity to discuss these questions with Mr Ikechukwu Onuoma Esq (Notary Public), the Managing Partner of Obra Legal; a lawyer with over 14 years of experience in Litigation, Domestic and International Arbitration and Negotiation. He is also a Charted Mediator who has mediated over 15 cases at the Enugu State Multi-Door courthouse (ESMDC) since the inception of ESMDC in 2018 and an Editorial member board the Enugu State Multi-Door Court House Journal.
We concluded that though they are factors that would influence selecting an ADR option, for both the parties and lawyers. However, they are motivational factors, especially for the lawyers that would encourage them to embrace ADR.
Introduction
What prompted the birth of ESMDC?
We provided an overview that was centred on four (4) key points. They are as follows:
1) To enhance access to justice by providing an Alternative Mechanism to supplement litigation in resolving a dispute.
2) To minimise the frustration faced by citizens in the justice delivery process.
3) To provide a legal framework for a fair and efficient way of settling matters through ADR.
4)  To become the hub of ADR in the whole entire eastern region.
What are the factors that that could influence the selection of an ADR Option?
In Nigeria, generally, three factors were highlighted that could influence an ADR option’s choice or selection. These factors are as follows:
1)  The mindset of legal practitioners, collaborative agencies, community and friends.
2)  Efficiency and speed in the justice delivery system.
3)  Finance for lawyers.
Given this discussion, another prominent question emanated on ‘what could motivate lawyers to tow the ADR path to ease the court’s burden?
Motivational factors for lawyers to tow the ADR Path:
Culture, Awareness and Career (CAC) were revealed as the three motivational factors.
Culture: Reveals itself in the sense that customary Arbitration already forms an intrinsic part of our culture in Africa. Validating the above view, Ikechukwu Onuoma elucidated that in the African continent the ADR already forms a part of their culture thus a constant reminder of these would help remind the lawyers and the potential users to opt for ADR.

For example, he revealed that ‘in the African culture they have the Obi’s, Baale’s, and the Emirs who otherwise act as arbitrators over the disputes between the parties.[1] Also, he exemplified the above submission by citing the famous book written by Chinua Achebe. He states, “we will find iconic scenes in his books Things fall Apart, references have been made to families who have been brought to the Igwe and he settled their matters.”He emphasised that ‘as a consequence, it shows firstly that the elements of Traditional African Method of Settling Disputes (TAMSD) –the parties submit voluntarily, which is the same element overlapping with ADR, the second is that the parties would accept the terms which overlap the ADR, – acceptance of the terms.

Finally, the parties be it the kinsmen or the communities will also agree that they will be bind by the terms of that customary arbitration or settlements and sometimes in order to be bind- involves some sort of oath-taking in their customary rudimental arbitration and exactly this binding nature of TAM flows into the same ADR now institutionalised, hence culture is key.’

Awareness: This is where the Enugu State Multi-door Courthouse comes into play. The director, Mrs Caroline Etuk, has taken advantage of the new terrain to create the new Mediterranean through campaigns and training.
Career: If most of the ADR matters done by lawyers will count or form part of the requirement for those who want to be appointed as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) or a judge. That would encourage lawyers to refer more cases and advocate or enlighten their clients to opt for ADR.
Some of the Feedbacks/ comments received for this episode:
Insightful session-Little wings
Very insightful session on ADR. I agree that awareness should be thrumped up. Culture is another element that should be progressively embedded in formal ADR processes for greater buy-ins, especially in Nigeria’s eastern part.-Justina Dillion
I just started listening to your podcast, and I can tell you that I have learnt so much about ADR.
Keep up with the good work.- Jude Oke
Conclusion
Hence we hope that all the points raised in this discourse should not discourage potential parties or the lawyers who are yet to embrace this scheme rather it should serve as a motivational factor or an incentive to embrace ADR / opt for ADR.
To hear the full version of this episode, click here.
Reference:
Chinwe Umegbolu, Dispensation of Justice: Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) as a Case study (Ongoing research University of Brighton 2018-2021).

Arbitration as it stands today.

 

Abstract

 

In this episode of Expert Views on ADR (EVA), I and Ms Chika Maduakolam, a PhD Candidate in Socio-legal studies at York University, Toronto; a lawyer with over ten (10) years experience in civil litigation and dispute resolution presents a general overview of arbitration and why it is a suitable process for potential users.

Introduction

An overview of Arbitration

We started off with what is ADR? Then delved into what arbitration means at a basic level. In furtherance, comparative analysis between arbitration and the traditional African method of settling disputes (TAMSD) was revisited. We went on to look at the similarities of  Arbitration and litigation, which then led us to address a pertinent question on why arbitration is viewed as the new litigation.

Why then is Arbitration a good alternative to litigation?

Essentially, to tackle the aforementioned question -we critically analysed the neutrality of the arbitration process, its flexibility, cost, time, the cordial relationship of parties and confidentiality of the arbitration process vis-a-vis litigation.

 

Ad hoc v Institutional arbitral bodies

A summary of the advantages and disadvantages of the above-mentioned sub-theme was stated, and some of the institutional bodies from different jurisdiction were highlighted.

 

Scope of matters covered by Arbitration

The general notion that the scope of matters covered by arbitration is only commercial matters or labour disputes were dispelled in this episode. We highlighted several matters that can go to arbitration.

 

Some comments/ feedback for this episode

Well done, Chinwe. The interlink between ADR and our traditional way of settling Dispute in Nigeria makes ADR a more viable option. Kudos!!!-IK Onuoma

Well done- Mehabad S.Ali

ADR is fast getting the recognition it deserves. Keep up the good work- Nneka Egbunike Ali.

Very insightful session on the pros and cons of arbitration both in the formal and informal settings.  Keep it up, Chinwe.- Justina Dillion

Good job, well done.- Steve Adikaibe

Insightful… educative…thanks Little Wings

 

Conclusion

In sum, arbitration is a process where parties choose an independent, impartial decision-maker to settle their matter, the arbitral award that is given is binding on both parties. To an extent, arbitration does save parties some measure of cost, some measure of time, and most importantly, it gives parties flexibility over the process. It is suited to a whole lot of matters, and it does not have to be expensive, it all depends on the expert parties choose, and it depends on how they choose the expert.

Thus from the aforementioned comments/ feedback- to an extent, this episode has demystified arbitration, for potential users to embrace this process.

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

 

 

 

Scope of Matters Settled Under ADR: Episode three (3) of EVA.

 

 

Abstract

In this third episode of Expert Views on ADR (EVA) Podcast, I and Mr John Osegi who is a Mediator at the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) and a practising lawyer in Nigeria, critically analysed the type of matters that are amenable to ADR; with the hope of enlightening potential users and litigants on the type of matters that can be sent to ADR. Hitherto we discovered that some matters are best handled under Mediation, which is part of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

 

Introduction

 

Summary of Matters that can be settled under ADR:

They include Family Disputes, Commercial Disputes, Probate and Administrative Estates, Maritime Disputes, Auxillary Matters in particular Custody, Small Claims, Landlord and Tenant Disputes. To reiterate some of the aforementioned disputes are best settled via Mediation.

It is apt to point out that small claim matters involve a small amount of money for instance in Lagos State there is a law that fixes small claims to the amount of 5million naira (equivalent to 9,958 pounds 68 pence) and below. In order words, a million is a small claim matter but anything above 5million would be referred to or would go to the magistrate courts. Small claims can easily be amenable to mediation and ADR.

 

Disputes not covered under ADR:

They consist of the following: Election Petition and Divorce.

Election Disputes:  It is essential to point out that elections disputes are not yet being covered under ADR but theoretically it can. Essentially in Nigeria where we play the zero-sum game of politics-the winner takes all. In certain instances, they could be some form of power-sharing although that perspective may not be too soon in coming because of the way Nigeria politics is arranged.  But then on a higher level particularly when it has to do with countries that are severely under some form of widespread confusion and violence. For instance, what happened in Kenya where Kofi Annan had to lead a mediation team to resolve a dispute at a particular level. Mediation can actually help to create an enabling environment for political disputes to be resolved.

Divorce: On the contrary, ADR cannot pronounce a decree nisi and a decree absolute.

 

Probate and  Administrative EstatesConversely, Mediation can not give the letter of administration that is the job of the court, mediation cannot admit the will etc.

 

Feedback / Comments from this Episode:

Very incisive Chinwe, this episode opens new frontiers in ADR.- Ikechukwu Onuoma

This podcast is really getting more interesting. I must commend the efforts of Chinwe Umegbolu Esq. for taking time out to do these very special sessions that have been extremely expository. The simplicity of her approach makes it easier for the potential users to know, understand, appreciate and have more confidence in the ADR process. I’m particularly convinced that this great hard-work channelled in the right direction. Kudos to you- Stephen Adikaibe

This episode captures the fulcrum of ADR. Permit me to name it the doctrine of severance. When you severe the substance from the riffraff, you enjoy the cascading beauty of ADR. Often times behind the lack of will and passion for ADR lies the inability to severe ADR matter from others. When people can actually draw the tiny line between litigation and ADR matters, they would naturally embrace ADR without much persuasions because the benefits are priceless. Putting it categorically, ADR is always a win-win situation. Nothing compares with that. .. but first, you must be able to know matters that are ADR in nature! Kenneth C. Joshua

A big advocate of ADR you are, you practically devote yourself to regular people like me to know about ADR and knowing how and when to use ADR ( mediation ). We thank you for your dedication in informing us on ADR, May God continue to give you the strength to carry on. Hurbert Laplante

It’s very interesting. This episode has raised some fundamental issues that would enlighten people more on the matters that are best handled at ADR. Thanks, Chinwe. Great job. Atuluku Abdul

 

Conclusion

This episode was able to identify matters that can be settled under ADR and those matters that cannot be settled under ADR. I hope the aforementioned discourse will propel or inspire potential users and litigants to try out ADR or Court-Connected ADR.

In sum, the above feedback/ comments demonstrate that there is a buy-in into the ADR process -which is the aim of the podcast.  To hear the full version of this episode, click here.

Episode 2: ‘Merits of the ADR Process’

 

Abstract 

This is the highlights of episode 2 of Expert Views on ADR (EVA) Podcast which revealed some of the factors that contributed to the recent use of ADR or the rise of ADR in various jurisdictions- which was as a result of delay and cost of litigation. Thus these factors provided an avenue for litigants to move towards Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Against this backdrop, Mr Steve Adikaibe, a practising lawyer in Nigeria, pointed out the advantages or merits of the ADR process with a clear intention of educating potential users.

 

Introduction 

Advantages of the ADR Process:

Some of the Advantages discussed are -the flexibility of the procedure, expedition, cost-effectiveness, confidentiality, party autonomy and simple procedure of the ADR process.

 

Comments/feedback from this second episode:

Very enlightening podcast thanks Chinwe. I am curious about the cost implications and who pays the mediators, and does it influence their decisions? –Akinyo Ola

I cannot agree less. In line with the above, it appears that the weaknesses of litigation gave birth to the modern ADR. In real life, litigation does not end a conflict even after judgment. It could restrain and compel obedience but cannot install peace and friendship back between disputants. On the contrary, ADR does not just end a conflict but restores love and peace between disputants.- Kenneth Joshua

This is a great piece of work Chinwe, your comparative analysis with the African Arbitration system is very vital.- Ikechukwu Onuoma

Very clear message. Your work on ADR is very expository.- Justina Dillion

I think this is an excellent piece of work. I commend you, Chinwe. I have noticed how expensive the ADR process has become over the last twenty years. I have also observed that the ADR process is becoming too legalistic and the strict application of the rule of evidence makes ADR session looks like courtroom proceedings. In all, ADR is the way to go. – Kingsley Nwabueze Onunwa

Thank you for sharing such an insightful podcast.- David Nzeribe

The importance of a platform like this cannot be understated. Thank you, Chinwe for your initiative on enlightening your audience on this contemporary and relevant dispute resolution solution. It is necessary to understand that a broad range of options now exist in respect to resolving most disputes, especially in the forward-thinking world we live in. This episode is particularly vital to dispel any initial misgivings people new to the process of ADR may have when coming to the table or considering other options to litigation. A great listen for anyone with doubts on the important value of ADR as a process. Unequivocally I say: Great job Chinwe!-Chika Madu

 

Conclusion

This episode has thrown more light on the advantages of ADR; thus, it will encourage or nudge potential users in choosing the best dispute resolution process.

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

Podcast: Expert Views on ADR (EVA).

 

Episode 1: Is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) an Offspring of the traditional African method of settling a dispute?

 

ABSTRACT

 The first-ever episode segment of Expert Views on ADR (EVA) podcast kicked off yesterday! Thus I had the privilege to discuss with Kenneth Joshua, a renowned legal practitioner in Lagos-Nigeria on the overview of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), the differences and similarities between the present ADR and the Traditional Africa method of settling dispute (TAMSD). We went on to discuss the development of ADR in Africa and how the Multi-door courthouse can be recognized as not only an option but also possibly the first means of settling a dispute at a cheaper rate and efficient manner.

 

Introduction:

 

The Aim of the Podcast:

By and large, Expert Views on Alternative Dispute Resolution (EVA) podcast is centred on the blogger’s thesis research objective, which is on the awareness of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) / Alternative Dispute Research (ADR) and its impact on other states, In particular, Enugu state Multi-Door Courthouse (ESMDC). ADR / MDC are at the forefront of drastic sensitization and development, particularly Africa. Thus, this blogger wants to be a part of this sensitization, particularly enlightening disputants/litigants who are yet to use this process. Hence I will invite key speakers (Experts in ADR / MDC) from the African continent and other continents every weekend to state or share their views on the benefits of ADR / MDC to get more and more users to embrace and pursue a career in ADR.
It is pertinent to point out that I am the host, super excited to achieve this milestone!

 

Significance of the Podcast:

This podcast thus far has been able to simplify ADR for potential users to be fully aware that Litigation is not the only option, that there are other alternatives. Moreso, for the users and non-users of ADR, to recognise the inherent pros and cons associated with this process and why it is important to opt for it for certain types of disputes.

For all intents and purposes, Kenneth and I are of the view that the Traditional method of settling a dispute in Africa (TAMSD) and the present ADR seeks to achieve the same purposes. However, they may vary depending on the circumstances of each dispute presented before it. However, both processes of dispute resolutions target to restore relative peace, harmony, fairness and eliminate rancour of any form between the disputing parties in a manner that reassures and resonate reasonable coexistence thereafter. For me, the processes are largely typical but differ in their procedures. Hence, we state that the procedures share so much in common but differs in its composition, approaches, methodology and inspirations. The African setting gives credence to persons that have distinguished themselves in the society to sit amongst the panel of mediators with or without expert or professional qualifications or experience on the matter. All that matters is their good standing in society. 

However, the present ADR pays more attention to professionals that have acquired enormous expertise in dispute resolutions. Furthermore, the present ADR platform has gone ahead to entrench the ADR formulas to an aspect of our laws that make it extremely difficult to abscond from the arrangements finalized during the dispute resolutions; thereby making it a more formidable and dependable channel of resolving disputes. This has further advanced the assurances of users knowing fully well that it is legally effective and can be enforced within the ambits of the law or legal system- which is encouraged globally. We must give credence to the traditional African dispute resolution(TAMS) pattern, as the present ADR is an advancement on the good jobs entrenched by the traditional system of old.

 

Comments/feedback from this  first episode:

 Well done, Chinwe. You are a true ADR advocate. Like I earlier said, I totally agree with you. The modern-day ADR is a replica of the traditional African mode of conflict resolution. During the pre-colonial era, which dates, back before 1861, ADR was the only means of settling a dispute in Nigeria. The modern-day court came later with the arrival of colonialism. It, therefore, suffices to hold the view that the modern-day ADR is the offspring of the traditional African model of ADR. Thank you. –Ken

Good job, Chinwe. Yes!-the modern-day ADR seems to be the new modern; advanced method of settling disputes, the obvious difference is “ADR” is a modern method while the traditional method is an old method. –Abdul

I learnt that anyone could practice ADR, ADR is basically what has been existing just that it did not have the fancy name for it yet but a question that has been on my mind since is how binding is ADR and I also learnt what court-connected ADR is. Furthermore, how to settle a dispute and get a ruling on it so that makes it binding and so much binding because the parties gave their consent. This podcast gave me the answers to all these questions. Well done. –Esy

  Very enlightening podcast thanks Chinwe. I am curious about the cost implications and who pays the mediators, and does it influence their decisions? Akinola Ola

The institution pays the mediators; thus, it does not affect their decisions. It is essential to point out that the institution gets funded by the government or from walk-in or private matters. Chinwe Stella Umegbolu

The importance of a platform like this cannot be understated. Thank you, Chinwe for your initiative on enlightening your audience on this contemporary and relevant dispute resolution solution. It is necessary to understand that a broad range of options now exist with respect to resolving most disputes, especially in the forward-thinking world we live in. This episode is particularly vital to dispel any initial misgivings people new to the process of ADR may have when coming to the table or considering other options to litigation. A great listen for anyone with doubts on the important value of ADR as a process. Unequivocally I say: Great job Chinwe! Chika Madu

This is a great piece of work Chinwe, your comparative analysis with the African Arbitration system is very vital. IK Onuoma

I cannot agree less. In line with the above, it appears that the weaknesses of litigation gave birth to the modern ADR. In real life, litigation does not end a conflict even after judgment. It could restrain and compel obedience but cannot install peace and friendship back between disputants. On the contrary, ADR does not just end a conflict but restores love and peace between disputants. Ken 

Thank you for sharing such an insightful podcast. David Nzeribe

Very clear message. Your work on ADR is very expository. Well done, sis… way to go! Justina Dillion

I think this is an excellent piece of work. I commend you, Chinwe. I have noticed how expensive the ADR process has become over the last twenty years. I have also observed that the ADR process is becoming too legalistic and the strict application of the rule of evidence makes ADR session looks like courtroom proceedings. In all, ADR is the way to go. Good work, Chinwe. Kingsley Nwabueze Onunwa

 

Brilliant sis. Persistence, perseverance, diligence and excellence. Well done. Kingsley  Nwokolo

 

CONCLUSION

Flowing from the above, this first episode of the podcast has made users and non-users to be aware of the advantages of ADR and how it relates to the TAMSD. This line of thinking is predicated, from the comments/ feedback mentioned above connoting that the EVA podcast, is on its way in fulfilling one of its aims.

It is essential to point out that EVA is aired on Anchor FM for an average of 30mins recording time and its distributed by Anchor FM on different social media platforms like Spotify, iTunes, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Radio Public.

For the full version of this episode click here

Reference:
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.

Stay tuned next weekend for more episodes on Expert views on ADR (EVA)!!!

New at the LMDC- Online Settlement Month (O.S.M).

 

Introduction:

The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse will be holding it’s first (1st) Online Settlement Month (O.S.M) in Africa from the 11th-16th December 2020. The O.S.M., which was recently approved by the Chief of Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice K.O Alogba, is a part of the on-going initiative- the Lagos Settlement Week (L.S.W.). Set up by the LMDC in conjunction with the Lagos State Government and the Lagos State Judiciary in a bid to minimise the frustration of disputants and ease delays in the courts.

The Introduction of the O.S.M in Lagos state shows that the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse has continued to fulfil its overriding objectives stipulated in section 2 of the LMDC Law 2015. One of which is to enhance access to justice by providing alternative mechanisms to supplement litigation in the resolution of disputes.

Purpose of the O.S.M:

To reiterate, the purpose of the L.S.W. is to assist in decongesting the court’s dockets in the state as well as enhance the justice system through the definitive reduction of the caseload of the courts and cost within a specific time. The purpose as mentioned above aligns or is in line with the purpose of the O.S.M. However, the distinguishing factor between the two is that parties to a dispute can resolve their conflicts from the abode of their homes or offices amongst others. Additionally, the LSW/ Dispute settlement is a week’s events whereas the O.S.M is within one month. 

Scopes of matters settled under the O.S.M:

The nature of matters covered at the O.S.M includes Tenancy matters, Banking, Real Estate, Maritime, Aviation, amongst others.

Scopes of matters not covered: It is essential to point out that Capital offences and divorce proceedings are not covered at the LMDC. However, minor offences can be settled through the restorative door.

Benefits of Online Settlement Month (O.S.M):

a) O.S.M will reduce both the magistrates and judges dockets, thereby allowing them to focus on more complex cases.

b) It will provide parties with autonomy where they can stipulate what they want and how they want it in their contractual agreement. Thus if both parties decide to settle that same day or another day, then Terms of settlement (T.O.S.) will also be signed online. Hence it saves time and cost.

c) It is inherently non-coercive and private- If both parties show up then it demonstrates that they are on the same page, they want to resolve past issues and address future needs thus they will be able to secure a win-win outcome.

 

Challenges facing the O.S.M:

The following are some of the challenges I believe that the O.S.M may face:

a) Some parties may not be aware of this initiative because it is new, so the turn up might be low or not much.

b) Some parties who are not computer literates may not know-how to commence cases online, or might need help, to get started on the computer thereby delaying the process or not showing up at all.

c) It may cost more for parties who will still need the services of their lawyers and

d) Some cases might not be resolved within the duration stipulated herein- due to the complexity of some cases; thus, it will be returned to the courts.

 

Conclusion:

I believe that Online Settlement Month encapsulates all the ideals of a faster case flow management system; hence this new initiative would enhance the effectiveness of the Alternative Dispute Resolution through the LMDC practice. Hopefully, the O.S.M will live up to these expectations. Fingers crossed.

 

P.S: Read the guidelines governing Online Dispute Resolution at the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC), which I stated in my previous post.

 

Reference:

LMDC Linkedin page

LMDC Law 2015

Umegbolu, Chinwe, Dispensation of Justice: Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) as a case study (Ongoing PhD Research at the University of Brighton).

 

African Arbitration Association (Awards): I’ve been shortlisted!

I’m super excited to have been shortlisted for the 2020 African Arbitration Awards (AAA). To everyone who must have voted for me, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart because without you I would not have been shortlisted. Una Vez más, Muchos Gracias! Dallu rinne!! Merci Beaucoup!!! Danku!! 

A friend of mine told me that to be shortlisted is an outstanding achievement and I couldn’t agree more.

 

What you need to know about the African Arbitration Association (AfAA):

The AfAA was established in 1998, and its headquarters is located at Kigali, Rwanda. 

Its overriding objectives are as follows:

(a)  to act as the platform for African international arbitration practitioners and African arbitration institutions within the African continent to enhance the capacity of African parties, institutions and practitioners;

(b)   to act as a reference point for information concerning activities in international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution within the African continent;

(c)   to increase coordination amongst its members in respect of Africa-related international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution activities;

(d)   to provide greater access to information about international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution in Africa;

(e)  to promote African international arbitration practitioners and African arbitration institutions within and outside the African continent;

(f)    to facilitate and encourage the appointment of African international arbitration practitioners and the use of African arbitration institutions;

(g)   to advance the use of international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution as effective methods of dispute resolution of Africa-related transactions and disputes;

(h)   to support the provision of technical assistance, awareness-raising and capacity-building activities to African governments to assist them in their task of strengthening the legislative and judicial frameworks in the field of arbitration and other means of dispute resolution; and

(i)   to enhance awareness of existing capacity-building initiatives, to increase coordination in delivering technical assistance and capacity-building activities, and to improve cooperation among international and regional organisations, arbitral institutions, academic institutions and professional associations throughout the African continent.

In sum, the AfAA is a non-profit private organisation, and its members are successful African arbitrators, ADR practitioners, African arbitration institutions with the clear vision of enlightening and promoting dispute resolution in the African Continent. In the past, most of the headline on ADR was mainly centred on western ADR. Embracing the words of Adichie on the dangers of a single story and the need for a balanced story. Hence, I believe the AfAA has changed the narrative by providing insights into African Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution cutting across Africa. Indeed it’s now a ‘balanced story.’

 

Reference:

AfAA Website.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the danger of a single story (Ted talks: Youtube 2009).

The Lagos Settlement Week (LSW)

 

Source: Lagos multi-door courthouse (LMDC)

 

Introduction

The Lagos Settlement Week (L.S.W.) as the name implies is a week set aside by the Chief Judge of Lagos State for specific Courts to clear the backlog of cases through referrals to the LMDC for possible resolution through the A.D.R. processes. It is essential to point out that the settlement week is a joint initiative of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, the Lagos State Judiciary, the Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Bar Association (N.B.A.).

Hence most of the cases that are treated during the settlement week are court-referred and walk-in matters. These are cases that have been attempted in the informal setting A.D.R. and failed, thus the real motive behind the LSW is to find a way of decongesting the high courts. In other words, the court wants to give a second try to those cases and also to uphold the High Court of Lagos (H.C.L.) State Rules; Order 3 Rule 11:

for all originating processes filed in the Registry shall be screened to determine the suitability for Alternative dispute resolution (A.D.R.) mechanisms and may be referred to the Lagos Multi-Door Court House or any appropriate A.D.R. institution.”

For the following reasons, H.C. L  Rules, in collaboration with the LMDC, has demonstrated the viability of Alternative Dispute Resolution for Justice reform and continues to serve as a model for other states of the federation.

It is essential to point out that the first settlement week programme for 2019  was held at the beginning of the year. And the subsequent one was held in December 2019. The next settlement week is from the 21st-25th September 2020. It is essential to point out that before the  Lagos Settlement Week (L.S.W.)  takes off. The case managers will have to go to the court to screen matters, that are A.D.R. amenable.

 

Online Dispute Resolution (O.D.R.):

The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse has continued to fulfil its overriding objectives stipulated in section 2 of the new rule 2015- by providing the 1st Online Settlement  Month (O.S.M.) in Africa. The Chief of Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice K.O Alogba recently approved the discourse as mentioned above. The first-ever O.D.R. week will be held from the 11-16th December 2020.

 

The Purpose of the Lagos Settlement Week: 

One of the overriding objectives of the LMDC is to promote or undertake activities including but not limited to the settlement week which will further aid in decongesting the courts and in turn assist in achieving the purpose for which the LMDC was established.

In furtherance, Settlement Week was created to encourage the early settlement of cases pending in the Lagos High Court; in so doing paves the way for cost-effective justice and speedier dispute resolutions for the disputants.

 

Scopes of matters that can be referred to the L.S.W.: 

A.D.R. can be utilised in resolving disputes ranging from; Tenancy matters, property disputes, debt recoveries, libel and slander, administration of an estate, employment and trade disputes; construction disputes; accident and tort; medical negligence, contracts enforcement, family disputes, succession disputes, small claims and banking and insurance-related disputes

 

Conclusion:

Evidently, the L.S.W. and O.S.W. is an A.D.R. awareness program to restore public confidence in the judiciary and promote A.D.R. processes in Nigeria. It is also a perfect opportunity for the stakeholders-Judges, magistrates, lawyers, mediators and users of the scheme to partake in promoting A.D.R.

 

References:

Umegbolu, Chinwe: Dispensation of Justice: Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse as a Case Study ( Ongoing research at the University of Brighton).

The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse: Lagos Settlement Week -Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS).

The High court rules of Lagos State 2012