Disputes Are Inevitable. How Do You Resolve Them?

Disputes are generally an inevitable part of human interactions. Such disputes are likely to arise from different human transactions including economic activities, family relationships, community and neighbourhood activities, international activities, religious activities and other civil activities.

When these disputes arise, it is only natural that the parties will want to resolve them peacefully and the common method of doing so without going to court is to go through the Alternative Dispute Resolution methods.

There are various forms of alternative dispute resolution and they are Arbitration, Mediation, Negotiation and Conciliation. Unlike court proceedings they are confidential and flexible because issues can be negotiated so that parties can reach a win-win settlement. And the settlements could become as binding as a court judgement.

Alternative Dispute Resolution is also likely to be both cheaper and quicker than recourse to courts.

In recent years in Nigeria more people are increasingly realising that court proceedings should not be the last resort for resolving disputes. The courts themselves especially Lagos High Courts are encouraging parties to turn to alternative dispute resolution, even though there is no general rule that says that alternative dispute resolution must be used to resolve disputes.

Alternative Dispute Resolution process can take two forms:
  • One process allows the parties to the dispute to decide their own outcome, often with the help of a neutral third party. This is typically the case for Mediation, Negotiation and Conciliation.
  • Another type of process is one in which the outcome is decided by someone who is not a party to the dispute and this is what happens in Arbitration.
The traditional method of resolving disputes in Nigeria was by litigation. But with the economic, social and political developments in the country, there was considerable rise in the number of cases in our courts which made the process of litigation more and more time consuming, expensive and cumbersome.

As we know that men and women are by nature not patient, when a dispute arises they are in a hurry to have their rights and liabilities determined as soon as possible and would prefer a situation where the dispute will be resolved in an amicable way.

Also the complexity of litigation has greatly increased the cost of disputants who are naturally anxious to reduce them. The courts are also a public place so there is nothing like confidentiality in court proceedings. These and more are why people are now resorting to effective alternatives to court proceedings.

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