WHO WE ARE
The Lagos Multidoor Courthouse (LMDC) is a court-connected Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre that offers a variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes. The Mission of the LMDC is to supplement litigation as the available resource for justice by the provision of enhanced, timely, cost effective and user friendly Access to Justice. The Multi-Door refers to the various options available at the LMDC including Mediation, Arbitration, Early Neutral Evaluation, and Hybrid Processes.
In the bid to promote easier Access to Justice in line with global trends in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), the idea of a Multi-Door Courthouse (as an institutional repository of ADR mechanisms) was first mooted in 1998. Spurred by the Multi-Door Courthouse concept as propounded by Harvard Professor, Frank Sanders at the 1976 Dean Roscoe Pound Conference, Kehinde Aina, the Executive Director of the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group (NCMG) spearheaded the quest to introduce the concept into Africa. With the collaboration of the Lagos State Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice, the dream became a reality in June 11, 2002 with the establishment of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse as the first court-connected ADR Centre in Africa
The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse initiative was designed to address the causes of public dissatisfaction with the judicial system such as court congestion, delays in the dispensation of Justice and the high cost of litigation. The Multi-Door Courthouse concept was introduced to provide a solution to some of these issues by providing an alternative to litigation through the provision of cost-effective, speedy and user-friendly access to Justice. The establishment of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse as the first court-connected ADR Centre in Africa marked the debut of a new concept in the Justice System of the Nigerian nation.
The Multi-Door Courthouse concept represents a variety of Dispute Resolution options available to disputants such as Mediation, Arbitration, Early Neutral Evaluation and other ADR hybrid processes. The consequence of this is that a dispute will be resolved using the most effective approach best suited for the particular dispute with the attendant benefits of timeliness; cost effectiveness; restoration of relationships; confidentiality; flexibility and the other benefits that have been associated with the use of ADR.
The court-connectedness of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse also makes it an integral resource of the Lagos State Judiciary. The interface between the LMDC and the Lagos State Judiciary has developed in scope and intensity over the years. First, the referral of cases from the Courts for resolution by ADR was made possible by a Practice Direction. When the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse Law 2007, was promulgated, Judges were required to encourage parties to use ADR and mandatorily refer disputes to ADR if one of the parties was willing to use the ADR process. In 2012 the new High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2012 mainstreamed ADR into Civil Justice Administration and brought the interface full circle. This synergy of The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse and the Lagos State Judiciary will no doubt bolster the justice system, engender citizen satisfaction and create a conducive environment for increased economic growth and the inflow of direct foreign investment into Lagos State.
To Achieve a 60% Reduction in the Case Load of ADR Amenable Cases in the High Court of Lagos State by 2020
Provide Qualitative Access to Justice through Effective, Timely and User Friendly ADR Channels.
THE LMDC LAW
The LMDC Law was promulgated in 2007 (revised in 2015) to create a legal framework for the operations of the LMDC and to create the proper environment for the fulfilment of its overriding objectives; the distinguishing court-connected feature of the LMDC makes it a vital part of the judiciary of Lagos State. In order to give maximum effect to its overriding objectives, the functions and roles of key justice sector stakeholders have been incorporated into the provisions of the Law. These include:
The role of the court is spelt out in Section 16 of the Law. This provision specifies amongst others that it shall be the responsibility of the Judge of the High Court of Justice, Lagos State, to control and manage effectively proceedings in court and issue orders which would encourage the adoption of ADR methods in dispute resolution, including the mandatory referral of parties to explore settlement at the LMDC whenever one of the parties to an action in court is willing to do so.
Under Section 15 of the LMDC Law, the ADR Judge is empowered to require the attendance of the defaulting party before him to explain the reasons for his neglect or refusal to submit to ADR. Thereafter he may make directives or give orders as he may deem fit in the circumstances towards giving effect to the overriding objectives of the LMDC,
Furthermore, the law states that the responsibility of counsel regarding ADR is to the court, the LMDC and the legal profession. By section 17(3)(a) counsel is required to give due consideration and support to suggestions, orders and directives from the court for an amicable settlement or referral of on-going matters to the LMDC.
By Section 18 of the LMDC Law, disputing parties have a responsibility to the LMDC and to the ADR process and are to cooperate with the officers of the LMDC in the administration of their dispute. They are to consider seriously the adoption of ADR procedures for resolving their claims or issues when encouraged to do so by the court, their counsel or the LMDC.
At the LMDC, settlements are enforceable. Section 19 of the LMDC Law provides that upon the completion of an ADR proceeding, Settlement Agreements which are duly signed by the parties shall be enforceable as a contract between the parties and when such agreements are further endorsed by an ADR Judge, it shall be deemed to be enforceable as a judgment of the High Court of Lagos State.
OUR PANEL OF NEUTRALS
The LMDC maintains the services of a body of professionals and internationally accredited Mediators, Arbitrators and Neutral Evaluators from different fields of endeavor and other reputable ADR organizations.
THE ADR PROCESS
The ADR Process comprises of five major stages:
The Initiating Stage which involves the filing of a request to initiate the ADR process and supporting documentation.
The Intake Screening Stage which involves the screening of the case of both Applicant and Respondent to determine the appropriate ADR Door.
The Pre-session Stage where the parties are acquainted with the procedure, choose a mediator/arbitrator and also commit to the process by signing the relevant confidentiality and other agreements.
The ADR Session Stage where process commences.
The Closure State, the final stage of the process where there is either a settlement, an Award or the adoption of other Hybrid Processes:
- Administrative fees
Non-refundable fees to cover logistics and administrative services
- Session fees
Fees are dependent on both the value of the dispute and the dispute resolution process (Mediation, Arbitration or Early Neutral Evaluation). The specific details of these fees are contained in the LMDC fee schedule.
- Cancellation/Default fee
Fees payable where an already scheduled session is cancelled by any of the parties or for failure or neglect to attend sessions
FEE REVIEW/PRO-BONO SERVICES
In line with its policy of providing Access to Justice for all, the LMDC provides pro-bono services and may, in deserving cases, review the fees payable if the criteria stipulated by the Fee Review and Pro-Bono Committee are met by the applying Party.
A. The Lagos Settlement Week (LSW)
The LSW is a week set aside in the Judicial Calendar of Lagos State in which hundreds of cases which have been referred to the LMDC are mediated. The LSW was initiated in 2009 and its aim is to create an avenue for the decongestion of courts and awareness of the ADR concept. The event takes place 3 times a year (with one held in a magisterial district). The growth of the programme is evidenced by the increase in the number of cases mediated yearly.
B. The ADR Track
Order 5 Rule 8 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 provides that every civil process will be screened for suitability for ADR and referred to the LMDC or any appropriate ADR institution or practitioner for the application of ADR mechanisms for the resolution of the dispute. By virtue of this provision the LMDC became the official operator of the ADR Track from its offices at the Lagos and Ikeja Judicial Divisions. Matters for the Ikorodu and Badagry Divisions are currently processed from the Ikeja Division while matters from the Epe Division are processed at the Lagos Division, until those centres are opened for business.
C. ADR Skills Development
In 2012 the LMDC was appointed as consultant under the Justice for All (J4A) programme of the British Council, which is sponsored by the Department for International Development (DFID). The LMDC was required under the programme to develop a novel mediation skills training programme for the Citizens Mediation Centre (Nigeria). The pilot programme was executed over a period of six months for sixty mediators of the CMC, Lagos State. The programme was replicated in Kano and Enugu States.
Other training programmes by the LMDC include Mediation Skills Training (MST), Mediator Skills Coaching Programme (MSCP) and ADR Awareness Programmes which are organized by the LMDC for various organizations. The LMDC also organizes bespoke and residential trainings for the directors and top management of various institutions.