Workshop on alternative dispute resolution begins

Paul Evans Aidoo, Brong Ahafo Regional MinisterPaul Evans Aidoo, Brong Ahafo Regional MinisterAbout 90 persons, made up of lawyers, members of the legal aid board and other individuals in the Brong Ahafo Region are attending a five-day training programme on arbitration in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The aim of the session, which is the third edition to be held in the region, is aimed at equipping the participants with the fundamental knowledge and skills required in arbitrating disputes that may occur in their work places, churches, groups, families and communities, among other societal settings.

It is being organised jointly by the Sunyani Catholic Diocese, the Catholic University College of Ghana (CUCG), Fiapre, Giving to Ghana Foundation and the Fordham Law School, United States of America (USA) at the Marian Conflict Resolution Centre (MCRC) at the CUCG.

They are discussing basic definitions in arbitration, contrast differences with negotiation, mediation and arbitration, review Ghana arbitration laws and development of arbitration in Ghana and contrast with arbitration in America today, among other subject areas

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sunyani, Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi noted that, many of the misunderstandings between and among majority of the people were best resolved by mediation and ADR.

Currently, he stated that, ‘‘Our country is holding its breadth awaiting the ruling of the Supreme Court on the results of our presidential elections held at the end of last year. After watching the adversarial system of resolving this political problem many of us wish there were an alternative method of handling the misunderstanding to make both parties winners instead of one being declared the loser.’’

In a speech read on his behalf, the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Paul Evans Aidoo admitted that, there were challenges to the practice of ADR in the country, citing fir instance that, in the Grong Ahafo Region, one of the challenges facing the Regional House of Chiefs, was that, when parties agreed to the terms of the ADR, one of them later went to court to contest his or her case, thereby making the use of ADR to settle the matter in the first place a fruitless effort.

He also observed that, the second challenge was, when parties agreed to participate in the process, they sometimes would not honour the invitations to them hence frustrating the effort of the arbiters, adding, however that, ‘‘Undeniably, ADR is one of the best methods in conflict resolution matters, particularly in civil cases.’’

Mr Justice Ato Assan, the Supervising High Court Judge in Sunyani expressed the hope that, ADR would grow and expand to become a household word in Ghana and, saying, who knows, even election petition might in future be resolved through the less contentious mechanism of ADR.

He said granted that neither the Constitution of Ghana nor the rules of the court, specifically provided for incorporation of ADR in the settlement of election disputes, nevertheless, the Courts Act of 1993, Act 459 per Section 72 enjoins the courts to promote reconciliation and facilitate settlement among contending parties in civil cases.

Story: Akwasi Ampratwum Mensah / Daily Graphic / Ghana

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