Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), also called “Appropriate Dispute Resolution” is a general term used to define a set of mechanisms and techniques aimed at resolving disputes without resort to litigation. These ADR mechanisms are particularly of significance in a challenging environment such as ours, where the wheels of justice move slowly, as they improve access to justice within the civil justice system
Funmi Roberts, LL.M, FCIArb.
Tunde Fagbohunlu, SAN, FCIArb.
Towards the end of 2019, an audacious and non-discerning virus made its debut in Wuhan, China, bringing with it a disease christened COVID-19, which quickly transcended from being an epidemic, into a global pandemic. Its spread has forced governments worldwide to impose stringent but imperative measures which curtailed civil liberties, with unprecedented global socio-economic consequences, causing the entire world into a recession even greater than that caused by the financial crises of 2008.
The internet is now replete with articles and legal advice, solicited and unsolicited, about the rights of corporate and non-corporate entities. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged corporate directors and top management in ways hitherto unprecedented, causing them to turn attention to optimisation of cost, which in turn may lead to staff rationalisation. Thus, contractual due process may be over-looked. Supply chains have been disrupted and, parties unable to fulfil their obligations under tenancies and leases, issues relating to the use of personal data will rise to the fore. Many companies face bankruptcy, insolvency; consumer spending is now significantly curtailed, thereby impacting on the ability of the retailers to pay their suppliers and so on down the value chain. Also amplified are uncertainties around the effect of existing force majeure clauses in the face of COVID-19. In all these, lawyers would be at the frontline of advising clients about their rights and obligations, with instructions given to enforce rights through litigation. New claims and novel arguments would be brought before the courts for adjudication, with the ever-bludgeoning dockets of judges growing even more exponentially, even as the resources available to deal with them remain inadequate.
No one would be affected by any dispute that emerges as a result of any action or inaction taken in response to COVID-19 who would not have also suffered personal and economic losses.
Should those who have to enforce their rights as a result of COVID-19 related circumstance be subjected to the analogue vagaries of our anachronistic and slow-wheeled civil justice system?
It is this question that birthed the COVID-19 ADR Initiative (CADRI). It is a drive to improve access to justice so that the pains and aches of COVID-19 does not have to breach known boundaries and incur into the justice delivery space in the dawn of the new reality.Anecdotal evidence has shown that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is now fully part of our justice delivery system, with several institutions offering ADR-related services and multi-door courthouses established all over the country. If ever there was a time for our ADR skills to be put to use, it is now and this is an open invitation to Nigeria-based and other ADR practitioners world wide to contribute to the fight against the effect of COVID-19 by joining the CADRI Panel of Neutrals. At this time, what the world requires are simple, cost-effective and efficient dispute resolution processes, and this is what CADRI seeks to offer.
Now, more than ever is the time for everyone to work collaboratively to stem the pains, and damaging effect of COVID-19. Now, is the time to make dispute resolution a shared burden, while acknowledging the good embedded in the emergence of the pandemic, because COVID-19 has also acted as an accelerant for the reform of our civil justice system in a way not envisaged a few months ago.
Principal, Funmi Roberts & Co
Tunde Fagbohunlu SAN
Partner Aluko & Oyebode and Chairman of the Board, Lagos Chamber of Commerce International Arbitration Centre.
Prof. Alero E. Akeredolu
Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan
Current CADRI Administering Collaborating Partners
Thoughts & Insights
In Pursuit of the Client’s Interest: The Role of Counsel in the Mediation Process – Mrs Funmi Roberts, LL.M, FCIArb.
It would be stating the obvious and indeed over-flogging the issue to state that Counsel in Nigeria have been nurtured in the adversarial mechanisms of dispute resolution viz, litigation and arbitration. It is therefore usually difficult for lawyers so trained, to...
CADRI’s overriding Vision is to support sustainable economic growth in Nigeria by assisting businesses to overcome challenges in dealing with COVID-19 related commercial and contractual disputes; with a Mission to provide a platform for access to speedy and affordable dispute resolution services within the civil justice system.