All over the world, courts of law are overloaded and over burdened with cases. Invariably, there is usually considerable delay in the resolution of the disputes submitted to them.
Court procedure is very formal and very complex. It is inflexible, and this greatly reduces the ability of litigants to participate directly in the resolution of their grievances. The present legal practice of litigation leaves the parties exhausted, embittered and often impoverished.
Modern formal use of mediation has long occurred on international scene. Americans beamed with pride when Theodore Roosevelt successfully mediated the Russo-Japanese War in 1950 and more recently watched with admiration the mediation efforts of Jimmy Carter at Camp David Accords.
In the African context, mediation has been in practice since beginning of time, heads of families and traditional rulers settle family and communal disputes through mediation.
Internationally, in each mediation process, there are five distinct Phases, as follows:
1- the Opening Statement; during which the mediator sets the procedural frame work for the proceedings.
2- Identification of Issues; during which the mediator identifies, and characterizes the issues in the dispute, and determine the parties’ priorities related to those issues.
3- Structural Discussion of Issues; during which the mediator explores with the parties possible solutions to the dispute in a carefully structured manner.
4- Movement of the parties to agreement; during which the mediator applies persuasive pressure to overcome impasse and;
5- Finally, closure; usually where mutually satisfactory resolutions to issues are articulated and accepted, usually in some form of written agreement.This agreement is now being endorsed at the High Courts, the endorsement automatically makes the document same as a judgement of the High court, it is known as Consent Judgement.
• Mediation skills Accreditation and Certification Training Manual of Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC)
By Amina N. Nwabuezeh
Dispute Resolution Officer, Abuja Chamber of Commerce Dispute Resolution Centre