Looking for a way to resolve your disputes amicably without losing that friend, colleague, business ally, client/customer and preserving your cherished long-built relationship? My advice, don’t rush to court, rather, try mediation because “No two people go to court and return as friends”. Many people know that lawsuits are steadily increasing in dispute resolution, however, lawsuits are expensive and long-drawn-out and that is where Mediation is introduced as one of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) mechanisms.
Mediation is a process in which a neutral and impartial third party called the mediator is appointed by two disputing parties to facilitate the resolution of the dispute upon an agreement by the disputants.
It is important to note that, mediation is widely recognised and some States of the Federation have Laws in place under which the instrumentality of mediation is fully realised. Some of these States include Lagos through the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse Law1 and Oyo, through the Oyo State Multi-Door Courthouse Law2. The good thing about these Multi-Door Court Houses as the name implies is that, there are several other options opened to parties to resolve disputes such as early neutral evaluation, conciliation and arbitration which has been established by the need to provide access to justice in a timely, cost effective and user friendly system.3 These Multi-Door Court Houses maintain a Panel of Neutrals which consist of reputable professions, not limited to lawyers who are familiar with ADR tools and most of whom have been certified by various ADR institutes.
The benefits attributable to choosing mediation as a dispute resolution mechanism are quite enormous. Mediation essentially achieves a win-win solution for the disputing parties; It is cost effective and faster; The parties are at liberty to choose their mediator to resolve the dispute; The relationship that would otherwise have been damaged by litigation is preserved; Mediation is a private process and not subject to public knowledge and possible media attention as can be the case with litigation; after a settlement has been reached, other issues which arise from the dispute can be resolved with a new mediation session without affecting the prior settled issues.4
However, a significant disadvantage of Mediation is the fear that the agreement reached by the parties may not be statutorily enforceable in court because it is not statutorily protected like Arbitration which is covered by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.
Notwithstanding the above, mediation still remains a vital and potent dispute resolution mechanism which should be explored as a first port of call to save cost, salvage business relationships and prevent wastage of time and effort.
- The Lagos Multi-door Courthouse Law, Law No. 21, Lagos State Government Official Gazette No. 56 of 3rd August, 2007.
- The Oyo State Multi-door Courthouse Law of 2017.
- Abe, O. Mediation: The Nigerian Experience. https://www.academia.edu/2254195/Mediation_in_Nigeria . Retrieved on 9th August, 2018.
- Advantages of Mediation Construction Dispute Resolution Services, LLC. http://www.constructiondisputes-cdrs.co/advantages_of_mediation.htm . Retrieved on 7th August, 2018.