In the bid to promote easier Access to Justice in line with global trends in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), the idea of a Multi-Door Courthouse (as an institutional repository of ADR mechanisms) was first mooted in 1998. Spurred by the Multi-Door Courthouse concept as propounded by Harvard Professor, Frank Sanders at the 1976 Dean Roscoe Pound Conference, Kehinde Aina, the Executive Director of the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group (NCMG) spearheaded the quest to introduce the concept into Africa. With the collaboration of the Lagos State Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice the dream became a reality in June 11, 2002 with the establishment of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse as the first court-connected ADR Centre in Africa.
The LMDC initiative was designed to address the causes of public dissatisfaction with the judicial system such as court congestion, delays in the dispensation of Justice and the high cost of litigation. The Multi-Door Courthouse concept was introduced to provide a solution to some of these issues by providing a supplement for the available resources of Justice through the provision of timely, cost effective and user friendly Access to Justice. The establishment of the LMDC as the first court-connected ADR Centre in Africa marked the debut of a new concept into the Justice System of the Nigerian nation.
The Multi-Door Courthouse concept represents a variety of Dispute Resolution options available to disputants, like a mediation door, an arbitration door, an early neutral evaluation door or other ADR hybrid processes. The consequence of this is that a claim will be properly resolved in a way and manner best suited for the particular dispute with the attendant benefits of the timeliness; cost effectiveness; restoration of relationships; confidentiality; flexibility and the other benefits that have been associated with the use of ADR.
The court-connectedness of the LMDC also makes it an integral resource of the Lagos Judiciary. The interface between the LMDC and the Lagos State Judiciary has developed in scope and intensity over the years. First, the referral of cases from the Courts for resolution by ADR was made possible by a Practice Direction. When the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse Law 2007, was promulgated Judges were required to encourage parties to use ADR and mandatorily refer disputes to ADR if one of the parties was willing to use the ADR process. In 2012 the new High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2012 mainstreamed ADR into Civil Justice Administration and brought the interface full circle. This synergy of the LMDC and the Lagos Judiciary will no doubt bolster the justice system, engender citizen satisfaction and create an environment conducive for increased economic growth and the inflow of direct foreign investment into Lagos State.