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Lagos Chief judge tasks lawyers on ADR

Justice Opeyemi Oke

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, has charged lawyers to imbibe Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism as part and parcel of their practice.

The chief judge told lawyers that the use of ADR would enhance access to justice, improve speedy dispensation of justice and help to decongest court dockets across the country.

Oke said this in Lagos at the first ADR roundtable for lawyers, organised by the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) in collaboration with the Lagos Ministry of Justice.

According to her, the forum was orgainsed to educate lawyers to desist from being resistant to the use of ADR and not to see it as an “alarm drop in their revenue.”

She said: “As a magistrate and judge in Lagos State, I have in numerous occasions encouraged parties to explore ADR and settle cases out of court.

“Most of those cases were resolved out of court and parties were able to maintain their relationship and confidentiality were maintained.

“The resistant of lawyers to ADR is understandable and forgivable but when the concept is understood, engagement to the process will be profitable.”

Oke noted that in other advanced jurisdictions, a lot of cases go through ADR and are brought to court only when ADR failed.

“It is obvious that legal education in this country needs to be modernised to keep pace with the modern trend.

“However, in the interim, as lawyers and gate keepers in the justice sector, we have to make quick decision and imbibe the process to improve the society and reduce emotional stress undergone by parties who go through courts,” the CJ said.

A senior lawyer with the Ogundipe and Belgore law firm, Mr Babjide Ogundipe, advised lawyers to first evaluate cases brought to them and know what would be better for their clients.

Ogundipe was represented by a lawyer in his firm, Mr. Yemi Akande and spoke on the topic: The role of a 21st century lawyer: Advocate or Deal Maker?

His words: “As a lawyer, you should exercise due care in carrying out your client’s case, instead of getting a case locked up in litigation for several years, it is better to engage in ADR. A 21st century lawyer is one who is pragmatic and have the transaction mind.”

Ogundipe said that ADR has helped aggrieved parties to resolve issues in lesser time than when cases go through litigation, adding that at the end of ADR both parties make lots of economic advantage.

Mr Mark Mordi, who spoke on the topic: “Best practices and modern trend”, encouraged lawyers to adopt the global trend and learn how ADR is done.

He said that lawyers should imbibe dispute resolution mechanism and encourage their clients to settle some cases out of court in order to minimise costs and length of time wasted in courts.

“Access to court does not necessarily mean access to justice. The high fees and length of time taken in courts sometimes negates principles of justice,” Mordi declared.

The Chairman of the LMDC governing Council, Justice Olateru Olagbegi (Emeritus judge) in his remark explained that the idea behind the roundtable forum was to promote ADR and fulfill the statutory mandate of the LMDC by encouraging lawyers to help in decongesting the courts through ADR.

In this article:
Opeyemi Oke


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