‘Use mediation to resolve disputes’

Assistant Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Officer of Legal Aid Commission in the Upper East Region, Muntaru Farihan, has observed that except for criminal offences, ADR must be the first option to take in resolving disputes.

He explained that people no longer wanted to litigate because of high cost and going to court was time-consuming so mediation was the new norm in resolving issues and admonished the public to use it as first option to resolve disputes.

Mr Farihan said the Legal Aid Commission was expected to ensure equality of access to justice and fair treatment before the law by serving as public defender to people, especially the poor.

“ADR is open to everybody and encourages people to use processes because it is voluntary and provides platform to talk to an expert who will help, depending on the nature of case.

“Mediation is a potent tool towards dispute resolution and has power to reach resolution because power belongs to people and the parties unlike the law courts and such parties are allowed to vent their emotions for peace, unity, harmony and cohesion to return to homes and improve relationships,”Mr Farihan noted.

He revealed that 50 mediation cases were resolved last year and in 2022, three had successfully been achieved involving land, maintenance and relationship cases in the Bolgatanga Municipality were some successes chalked in the Upper East Region.

According to him, the ADR concept was to encourage people to resolve their problems and challenges using resolution that suits all parties and for parties to still have good relationships and advocated the need to continue to engage communities to understand ADR issues.

“The processes of Legal Aid in terms of how it assists and supports in mediation cases, especially in ADR mediation requires scale-up of its operations for its presence to be felt in all districts in the region to handle mediation cases and the commission has no financial ability to rent offices and depend on district and municipal assemblies to help with office space.

“Only the Bolgatanga and Bawku Municipalities, Bongo and Zebilla in the Bawku West District has offices, every district should have mediation office for cases to be handled there, as we are currently overwhelmed with cases however, there were inadequate number of lawyers in the region with only two lawyers serving in the region,” Mr Farihan bemoaned. -GNA

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