Privacy is paramount in Alternative Dispute Resolution - Judge

Bolgatanga, July 19, GNA – Justice Irene-Charity Larbi, the Judge-in-charge of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), says privacy in the ADR system is crucial and more advantageous over conventional litigation.

She said the ADR system ensured that privacy was paramount and that no witnesses were allowed during the process.

She said even the Lawyers, who attended ADR sessions, were only to support their clients and not to take over the ADR process.

“The case belongs to the parties; they own the case; and, therefore, they own the process. We make sure that when we are holding the ADR sessions, it is in private,” Justice Larbi, who is also a Justice of the Court of Appeal, said.

She was speaking on the theme: “Making our Courts user friendly, through the use of ADR” at the launch of the ADR week held in Bolgatanga, the Upper East Regional capital.

She said ADR was instituted in 2005 as an intervention to ease pressure on the regular Court system and create a platform that would offer disputants the opportunity to play key roles in resolving their disputes.

The Judge said Courts could only be said to be friendly when the adjudication process was expeditious, devoid of unnecessary expenses and ensured that all matters in dispute between parties were effectively and finally determined without the multiplicity of proceedings concerning such matters.

“The regular Court system being a right base process, though has its own strengths, is characterised by factors that occasion delay and cost, thereby making access to justice most of the time very difficult,” she said.

Her Ladyship said based on provisions in the Rules of Court and the Courts Act, the Judicial Service had adopted the ADR to ensure that access to justice was not hindered.

“The ADR Programme uses mediation mainly for the resolution of cases and it has a lot of benefits that support quality justice delivery.”

The Judge said people valued highly the privacy ADR provided as matters heard in the open court ended up in the public domain.

This, she said, made the parties involved susceptible to all types of comments and sometimes public ridicule, noting that the ADR process helped parties to willingly comply with agreements they made after the process.

“People who design solutions to their conflicts are more satisfied with the outcome than people who leave the resolution of their dispute in the hands of another person or authority.”

She said they expected that after 16 years of implementing the Court Connected ADR Programme with demonstrable verifiable success, in subsequent years, the ADR would not just complement the justice delivery architecture, but would be a major option to seek justice provided the nature of the case admitted the intervention of ADR.