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The ADR Unit/Professional Group
The Unit is the main hub for the administration of all cases referred to the LMDC, from the High Court or Magistrate Court of Lagos State, Courts of other jurisdictions outside Lagos State, Federal Courts, Private Persons, Corporations, public institutions and dispute resolution organizations.
ADR Techniques Employed by the LMDC
LMDC offers Mediation, Arbitration, and Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) services to disputants. It also offers a number of hybrid processes. The main focus of the LMDC is Commercial Dispute Resolution and it handles predominantly civil cases. The subject matter of cases administered at the LMDC includes Contract, Land, Property, Employment, defamation and Libel, Landlord and Tenant, Matrimonial, Causes, Telecoms, Maritime, Aviation, Energy, Banking, Insurance, Probate and Estate and other issues in dispute.
• Arbitration: a forum for the participants to present legal arguments and evidence to a third party, who will arrive at a binding decision called an ‘award’.
• Mediation: an informal and confidential process in which a neutral third party helps disputants reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
• Early Neutral Evaluation: an impartial assessment of a case’s strength and weaknesses, with the evaluator providing an advisory opinion as to settlement value and merit, and/or will assist the parties in settlement negotiations
• Hybrid ADR Processes:
These consist of a mix of two or more ADR processes in resolving a single dispute. It could be Med-Arb (Mediation - Arbitration) which describes a process which commences with Mediation and continues as Arbitration if there are some issues left unresolved after Mediation or when the parties need a higher authority to decide some issues for them.
Overview of the Mediation Process
At the LMDC, the Mediation process comprises five major stages namely, Case Initiation, Intake Screening, Pre-Session, Mediation Session, and Closure stages.
Stage 1 - Case Initiation Stage
A matter may be initiated at the LMDC in either of three ways:
Any party to a dispute may initiate Mediation, Arbitration, Early Neutral Evaluation or any other ADR service by visiting the LMDC or writing to its Director. Matters from other reputable ADR organizations may be filed at the LMDC for settlement.
The Presiding Judge in a matter already in litigation or in the course of a pre-trial conference may in appropriate circumstances refer parties to the LMDC. Apart from the High Court of Lagos State matters may be referred to the LMDC from the Federal High Courts or Courts of other jurisdictions outside Lagos.
The LMDC through the Director may, in circumstances where the public interest or the interest of the disputing parties so demand, approach the parties with a view to assisting in the resolution of their dispute.
Every civil suit filed in the High Court of Lagos State is screened for ADR amenability and put on the ADR Track if it is found suitable.
Stage 2 -Intake Screening Stage
The LMDC Registrar evaluates the matter for case classification and Intake Screening. This involves a careful study of the parties Statement of Issues and Statement in Response, to determine the nature of the claim, and the underlying interests as well as the appropriate "door" for possible resolution.
Stage 3 - Pre-Session Stage
The Case Manager may upon the approval of the Registrar convene a Pre-Session Meeting where s/he informs the parties of the “door” recommended for the possible resolution of the matter, the process, the conduct of the parties and their counsel at the sessions. The Neutral, (Mediator, Arbitrator or Neutral Evaluator) considered suitable for the case is recommended by the Registrar from the LMDC Panel of Neutrals to assist in resolving the dispute. A date for the session is scheduled and an ADR Session Notice is subsequently sent to the parties, after the Neutral has completed the Disclosure Form, clarifying s/his relationship with either of the disputing parties.
Where a party, after being served with the notice of the matter involving him/her, refuses to submit within the stipulated time to Mediation, the Case Manager shall notify the ADR Judge who may then order the recalcitrant party to appear before him and afterward make requisite orders and give necessary directives.