Alternative Dispute Resolution as the name implies, means settlement of disputes by third party without resorting to litigation. Before Nigeria was colonised by the Britain, Nigeria had a way of settling their disputes. The four most recognised method in traditional societies are Negotiation, Mediation, Adjudication or Arbitration and Reconciliation. The traditional society also has a way of enforcing their resolution. In modern days, not all disputes gets to court, there are matters that are settled amicably among family members or religious leaders.
In this instance, the settlement does not have any force of law and none of the parties can be compelled to agree to the resolution. ADR has been recognised by the Court.
Lagos State High Court has Multidoor courthouse where issues are resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution. Since the purpose of the court is to achieve fairness and justice and ADR is also serving this purpose.
Advantages of ADR
- It is less formal.
- It is less expensive.
- It is not time consuming .
- Parties can decide on how they want to resolve their disputes.
- It preserves the existing relationship of the parties.
Disadvantages of ADR
- it does not guarantee resolution of the dispute.
- It is not all disputes that can be resolved by ADR.
- Facts may not be fully disclosed.
Types of ADR
1. Negotiation: This closely resembles mediation. However, it may not involve a third party. Commonly, the parties resolve the disputes themselves by reaching a common ground. The parties identify their differences and agree on a way to resolve them.
2. Mediation: This is where a third party known as the mediator act as a facilitator in resolving the dispute. The mediator does not judge the parties, he just helps to facilitate and guide the parties in cutting down their responsibilities.
3. conciliation: This is an informal process where a neutral third party helps the parties to reach an agreement. In this type, the conciliator helps the parties isolate the issues and develop options to accommodate the need of the parties.
4.Arbitration: This is a process of resolution of dispute where the parties appoint one person or more. It is usually by an agreement between the parties for example in a contractual agreement, the parties can put an Arbitration clause to the effect that in case any dispute arises the parties shall subject the matter to Arbitration. Arbitration may be ad-hoc, contractual, institutional, or statutory.
When a party wants to explore the option of ADR for Dispute Resolution, it is better for such party to employ the service of a lawyer. The lawyer will be able to negotiate the party’s interest sufficiently bearing in mind the consequence of such resolution. After any of the ADR is explored for Dispute Resolution, the lawyers will prepare a term of settlement which will contain all the terms the parties agreed to and it will be presented before the court.
The court will pass the terms as consent judgment which can only be set aside on allegation of fraud or duress. The service of a lawyer is best engaged in Alternative Dispute Resolution to avoid any complication of matters in the long run.