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LMDC moots mediation over criminal matters

By Joseph Onyekwere
17 December 2019   |   3:26 am
The Lagos Multi Door Court House (LMDC) said it is now considering mediation in criminal matters. Director of the Centre, Mrs. Adeyinka Aroyewun

The Lagos Multi-Door Court House (LMDC) said it is now considering mediation in criminal matters.

Director of the Centre, Mrs. Adeyinka Aroyewun, made the revelation at the weekend during the end of year neutrals’ parley and dinner held at the Foyer of Lagos High Court, Igbosere.

Responding to concerns raised by mediators, Mrs. Aroyewun said: “The centre is also considering mediating over criminal matters and we want mediators to be involved instead of magistrates.”

On the issue of funds, she expressed concern over the meagre amount mediators earn and expressed hope that it would get better, adding that she would soon retire and join mediators.

She explained: “If it is walk-in matters, the parties pay and it goes into the single treasury account of Lagos State and we have no control over it. But if it is court-referred, it is free, they don’t pay any money. We don’t charge for it.”

She admonished mediators not to refer parties to any institution for services, such as clinical tests and legal representation, explaining that because mediation is time-bound, mediators who are not free when contacted can decline so that those who are available can do the work.

“Tell them to Google if they ask you to do so for them’, she quipped.

Deputy Director, LMDC, Mrs. Achere Cole, taking the overview of mediator’s ethics, integrity and professionalism, explained that ethics is not just how you feel but should be international best practices.

“We have substantive and procedural ethics. The mediator provides information and promotes public confidence, impartiality and confidentiality. The bottom line should be – would the parties be okay with that? It is about self-determination because parties own the case.

“We cannot afford to breach the ethics of confidentiality. To what extent are our mediators discussing matters outside the room?” She asked, adding that it is wrong for mediators to discuss cases they handled in public since they don’t know who may identify any of the parties.

According to her, it has become very imperative for mediators to state very clearly in their dockets, their core competences.

“We have more and more cases coming to us that have subject-matter competence. That is why we request that mediators have the areas they have their core competence in their dockets. A mediator should be truthful in advertising and soliciting for a job”, she said.

A member of the LMDC governing board, Prof. Isabella Okagbue, stated that the Centre handled 1,685 matters and will possibly reach 2000 before the end of the year, adding that the total quantum of the amount involved is in billions.

“This is the success of the neutrals. Without you, we would not have achieved all these. We thank you for your contribution in mediation. We urge you to work on those things that slowed down your work this year,” she said.

Earlier in her opening remarks, Justice Josephine Oyefeso, said the essence of the party is to thank neutrals who have worked tirelessly throughout the year and have contributed to the development of the justice sector in Lagos State as well as their endurance for the delays in paying them.

“I am glad to inform you that a substantial amount of the funds have just been approved”, she enthused.