The Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, has reiterated that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has contributed to the construction of robust and resilient pillars of justice.
She described ADR as an invaluable asset in building the pillars of social justice, fostering open and constructive dialogue, where parties came together in a coordinated and non-material manner.
Mrs. Justice Torkornoo made these statements during a press briefing at the Sekondi High Court on “Building the pillar of justice through Alternative Dispute Resolution” to open the ADR week celebration in Takoradi in the Western Region.
She stressed “Building the pillars of justice through ADR was not merely an abstract idea. It is a practical and potent method for resolving conflicts that aligns with the principles of fairness, equality, and efficiency.
“ADR offers a platform for open dialogue, preserves relationships, ensures efficiency, promotes fairness and equality, and encourages innovative problem-solving.”
The objective of the ADR week is to educate and sensitize the public and stakeholders about the importance of ADR and how court users could access ADR services at the courts for a speedy resolution of cases.
Justice Torkornoo explained, the court related system of adjudication could be time-consuming, costly, and emotionally draining, while the ADR, uses mediation, arbitration, negotiation, and conciliation.
The Chief Justice said parties in the process had the opportunity to express their concerns, fears, and expectations to each other, with the assistance of a mediator, and gained a better understanding of each other’s perspectives for a united society.
Justice Torkornoo maintained that ADR paved way for creative, mutually beneficial solutions and encouraged the preservation of relationships.
She said, “In many legal disputes, the adversarial nature of litigation can leave a trail of bitterness and damaged personal or business connections while, ADR, on the other hand, strived to maintain these relationships and ensure that the parties involved could continue to interact, even if they have disagreed in the past.”
ADR was often appreciated as a champion of fairness and equality, offering a level playing field, since it was conducted in private, making justice accessible to all, regardless of financial status or legal knowledge.
This inclusivity, Justice Torkornoo believed, ensured that justice was also open and accessible to all citizens, allowed parties to design resolutions that fit their unique circumstances and promoted a sense of ownership over the outcome.
Efficiency, swiftness, and cost effectiveness, she said, were also the hallmark of ADR while traditional court proceedings were characterized by strenuous processes that lead to delays and costs which could hinder access to justice.
“The quick resolution of disputes is crucial in ensuring that justice is not only served but is served in a timely manner, allowing individuals and organizations to move forward without undue hardship,” she added.
Justice Torkornoo said, the Judicial Service was persuaded by the importance of ADR and so would focus and resource the ADR Directorate to ensure the courts efficient, user -friendly, to make access to justice real.
She recalled that the judicial service had since 2005, created the necessary environment within the courts to serve users with all the benefits of ADR, to make justice more accessible to all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
The Chief Justice said, incorporating ADR into Ghana’s justice system was to reinforce the harmonious foundations of the society, saying that “It is our duty to advocate its widespread adoption.”
Justice Torkornoo, indicated that, ADR had become a core component of Ghana’s adjudication system. “Therefore, when a judge refers a case to ADR parties in the matter should not feel slighted. I recommend ADR to everyone in appropriate cases.”
An Appeal Court Judge in charge of ADR, Justice Angela Mensah Homiah said ADR helped to reduce backlog of cases adding ” we need to discharge our duties effectively and efficiently.”