London ADR launches the African Mediation Initiative

London ADR is focused on promoting mediation throughout Africa and to establish mediation as a formidable profession. We have made the first move in establishing our presence in the continent by forming a formidable partnership with London ADR Nigeria.

We understand that the work will be challenging, but we are passionate about being instrumental to a continent wide judicial/dispute resolution reform and our expertise puts us in good stead.

The judiciary in most jurisdictions in Africa has been challenged by astronomical backlog of cases, which distorts the proper handing down of justice, let alone access to it. There seem to be an entrenched convention, particularly amongst the working class, that disputes can only be resolved in the court of law.

Wanda Hennig, a communications professional and a certified coach in South Africa, makes a good observation where she states that “as a society we are very defensive when it comes to conflict. We have a lot of taboos. This might be a bit philosophical, but one would hope that in changing our approach to solving disputes — and in many ways it’s always a lot easier to say ‘just talk to my lawyer’ than to talk for oneself, which one does in mediation — we might as a society develop an assuredness that makes it possible to engage in conflict constructively”.

We will not pretend that mediation or indeed ADR is a new concept in Africa. As a matter of fact, in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia – to mention a few, ADR has been the traditional method of dealing with disputes in the communities for many centuries. However, we intend to sophisticate ADR in Africa, particularly mediation, by introducing certain elements to the process to make it more effective, attractive, versatile and widely applicable in various sectors of society.

London ADR believes that now is the time to begin an intense campaign to introduce mediation as a quicker, cheaper and more practical option than going to court at the first instance. Mediation is very flexible, it can be used to resolve all kinds of disputes and whilst a court operates within the confines of legal and civil procedure rules, mediation operates within the parties’ ‘rules’. It takes into account the parties’ cultural differences and interests. It takes a holistic approach in piecing together the most complex of cases, through a collaborative process and producing outcomes that all the parties are mutually satisfied with.

This is the motivation behind London ADR’s African Mediation Initiative. We aim to work with legal and other professionals, the judiciary, educational institutions, private and public organisations including the various governments, to ensure that people at all levels are aware of mediation and its benefits.

Mediation works! That’s why it is increasing becoming mainstream around the world. The mediation rules in Canada amongst other countries for instance, allows for mandatory Settlement Conferences before a trial date is set. Efforts are already ongoing in some parts of Africa to raise awareness of ADR and in such places, we seek to collaborate with others to strengthen such efforts.