In an apparent move to sentisize the public on the importance of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and its effectiveness to dispute resolution, a law firm, Oakwell Partners, last week, organised a conference titled: “Mediation: The Most Modern alternative for Business Dispute resolution”.
The event that took place at the Oriental Hotels, Victoria Island, had as Guest speaker, Andrew Goodman, a Professor of Conflict Management and legal practitioner from United Kingdom, and was attended by government officials, legal practitioners, businessmen and a host of others.
In his address, Prof. Goodman, while emphasizing the importance of mediation as the modern alternative to dispute resolution, stated that the process is the best, especially, when it comes to business relations and that the process is in vogue in the western world.
Although, he admitted that litigation sometimes do become imperative, but he noted that mediation is far better, thus, urging Nigerians to imbibe the process.
He maintained that legal system in the western world which Nigeria adopted is a system designed to create a winner and a loser. “Conceptually, it means that in all cases, one of the parties in dispute will be dissatisfied with the outcome of litigation. Even, sometimes, the winner may be dissatisfied with the outcome, because of the impacts on corporate image, if it’s a corporate organization”.
Asked rhetorically, “Be right or be better off”? He said its essential for lawyers to identify the true nature of their client’s needs, saying its better to ignore the contract and work around to get resolution.
Goodman noted that the modern forward looking of business is to look at the way both parties in dispute can work collaboratively together. “In essence, to form consensus, which is a far cry to the system that creates winner takes all”.
He also noted that court processes will never create room for friendliness, but rather antagonism, whereas, mediation process will not only reconcile, but also solidify the relationship between the parties. “The truth of the matter, said the professor, “is that if litigation is infallible, cases will not go from lower court to the appeal court, or to the Supreme Court. “So, this is to show that even if mediation is not a panacea that can solve all problems and litigation on the other hand has never solved all problems, and shows that each of them has its weaknesses, but I will suggest that mediation is far better, because it is fast, cost effective, saves time, confidential and ends up bringing warring parties to a round table for amicable discussion and resolution of issues in dispute”.
Earlier in his address, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor-General of Lagos, Mrs. Funmilola Odunlami, while encouraging citizens to embrace alternative dispute resolution, said his administration has decided to enlarge the scope of ADR in Lagos.
By Tunde Alao