Fund to sustain ADR in the offing

The Judicial Service is to establish an independent fund to sustain the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process after the main donors pull out.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Millennium Development Authority and GTZ have been funding the programme. However, DANIDA is currently responsible for the payment of mediators on the programme.

The National Co-ordinator of the ADR process, Mrs Justice Irene Danquah, announced this in a speech read on her behalf by Mr Justice S.G. Suruubareh, the Eastern Regional Supervising High Court Judge, during the launch of this year’s ADR Week in Koforidua.

Mrs Justice Danquah said currently the programme had been extended to 47 district and circuit courts across the country with at least three mediators assigned to each of the courts, while a total of 180 mediators have been trained.

“With the realisation that land-related cases have become dominant in the courts, the Judicial Service has, in collaboration with the Land Administration Project, trained 30 surveyors to be used as mediators on pilot basis to reduce the backlog of cases in the lands courts in the Greater Accra Region,” she added.

She said between 2007 and 2012, a total of 22,004 cases were mediated, out of which 11,524 were settled, representing 52.4 per cent settlement rate.

Mrs Justice Danquah said the ADR concept had served as a complement to the traditional court system by making access to justice cheaper, easier, expeditious, non-adversarial and faster to the citizenry, while at the same time helping to reduce the backlog of cases in the courts substantially due to the mass mediation exercise.

That, she said, clearly indicated that the ADR mechanism was a reliable partner to the traditional justice system and must, therefore, be embraced and nurtured for an efficient justice delivery system.

She said the vision of the Chief Justice was to expand the programme to all the courts by 2017 and that it was in pursuit of this that a national ADR secretariat was established in 2009 to co-ordinate all ADR activities in the Judicial Service.

The Eastern Regional ADR Co-ordinator, Christiana Puorideme, lamented the meagre GH¢15 allowance paid to mediators and said this did not motivate them enough so some of them had threatened to stop offering their services.

Background of Adr in Ghana
In recognition of the need for a mechanism that would complement the operations of the regular court system for faster and efficient resolution of cases, a task force was established in 2001 by the Chief Justice, with the objective of determining an appropriate and customised policy direction that incorporated ADR in the court adjudication process.

The ADR programme, based on the recommendations of the task force, was therefore piloted in selected district courts in Accra and Tema between 2005 and 2007.

To ensure uniformity in the practice of the ADR programme, a uniform practice manual was launched in 2007 by the Judicial Service to guide practitioners. 

The manual was subsequently reviewed to make it compatible with the ADR Act (Act 74), which was enacted in 2010.

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