5,392 ADR cases recorded between January and September 2021 – Legal Aid

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National Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
National Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

A total of 5,392 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) cases were recorded by the Legal Aid Commission between January and September 2021.

Out of the figure, 3,904 cases have been resolved with 1,488 pending.

Within the same period, the Commission received 1,658 court cases, out of, which 734 have been resolved with 924 cases pending.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Monday, Mr Sylvester Nyarko Mends, Head of Administration, Legal Aid Commission, Ghana, said on the average, they received about 100 clients a day.

He said some of the ADR cases they handled included landlord and tenancy issues, debt recovery and family related matters.

Mr Mends said they also handled court cases such as marital or matrimonial issues, child maintenance, divorce, manslaughter, rape, and defilement.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) means any procedure, agreed to by the parties of a dispute, in which they use the services of a neutral party to assist them in reaching agreement and avoiding litigation.

The Head of Administration noted that the Commission struggled with enough office space for smooth operation.

“As we speak, we don’t have a building of our own. We are now in the building of the Council for Law Reporting. All the offices are choked, and it is even worse in the Lawyers’ office. We have more than 20 Lawyers here, but they are housed in two rooms, and this creates a lot of inconveniences,” he lamented.

He said the situation had compelled them to run a shift system and had some of the Lawyers stationed at their district offices at Amasaman, Gbawe-Weija and Ada.

Mr Mends also bemoaned the absence of logistics, vehicles, and personnel, making it difficult to conduct “active work” in all their 42 district offices.

“The whole of Legal Aid, we have only two vehicles and they have been in existence for over 10 years. It was somewhere last year that the Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (ARAP) donated four pickups to us.”

“We are calling on government to come to our aid and support us with vehicles. About two or three years ago, the Ministry of Finance gave us clearance to recruit more personnel, however, this is not enough. We are aiming at operating in all the districts in Ghana but without enough personnel, we can’t keep these offices active and running,” he said.
He said they carried out their operations in collaboration with the Police, Ministry of Justice, The Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Ghana Prisons Service and Non-Governmental Organisations in the justice sector.

Mr Mends called for intensified education on the rights of individuals, adding that, State institutions and actors should get involved in such sensitisation programmes.

He advised citizens to employ ADR in settling disputes and not rush to court over the slightest misunderstanding.

“It is not everything that you have to take to court. The court procedures are cumbersome and expensive, and sometimes, at some point, you do not have money to continue with case. Mediation and ADR are the best and allows you the opportunity to settle cases quickly,” he said.

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