By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, yesterday, commissioned the court Mediation Center to replicate litigation at the appeal level.
According to Bulkachuwa, with the birth of the mediation center litigation will cease to be the only method of determining appeals in the Court of Appeal. She said that parties before the court can now choose between litigation and mediation in accordance to Order 16 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016. The order is in respect of breach of contract, liquidated money demand, matrimonial causes, child custody, parental actions,
inheritance, chieftaincy and personal actions in tort are eligible for reference to the Court of Appeal Mediation Centre at any time before an appeal is set for hearing.
She said, “The Court of Appeal Mediation Centre in Nigeria is the first of its kind in the entire West African region. This is a giant stride in the right direction as Appellate Courts in countries like America, Canada, Australia, India, Singapore, and Mauritius have already achieved phenomenal successes in that regard.
“I wish to humbly appeal to members of the Bar to give Appellate mediation in this Court their maximum cooperation. We must bear in mind that our primary objective as officers in the Temple of justice is to do justice; and that justice delayed is justice denied.
“I assure you that it would enhance your practice as disputes are settled expeditiously, so you are likely to get your professional fees easily and faster.’
Also speaking, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen said that the centre is proof that Nigerian Judiciary is fast in becoming a legal system able to deploy multi-model justice delivery.
“The Nigeria Judiciary, as with many other jurisdictions globally, is consistent adopting ADR as an integral part of the justice delivery architecture in the legal system.
“I have directed that court’s must ensure that contracts where arbitration clauses are inserted must first go through arbitration before exploring the option of litigation.
“This will not only reduce the load of cases but also bring about speedy trials, encourage case flow management, increase investors and further strengthen the economy.
“The overall goal of the Mediation Center is to improve the efficiency in the court system promote conflict resolution and effective justice delivery in our Appellate Court,” Onnoghen said.