At the Lagos Settlement week Cocktail for Lawyers organised by the Lagos Multidoor Courthouse(LMDC), Anthony Atata pointed out that it is unfair to always insinuate that Lawyers Frustrate Mediation.
He said that most lawyers in Lagos will always prefer that their cases get concluded timeously and that the problem lawyers have with mediation is not the mediation itself but the method.He said that it is not the practice in Lagos for Lawyers to be charging appearance fees so lawyers have nothing to gain when matters linger in courts.
Mr Atata gave example of his matter which was referred to the Multidoor Courthouse and the claimant did not attend the mediation for one day and the mediation was subsequently closed.He said that the mediation was subsequently opened again without his knowledge and the Multidoor Courthouse did a letter to his client without copying him.Mr Atata,said that his client called him and enquired about the case and he informed them that mediation has closed only for the client (a company) sent a scanned letter of invitation to him accompanied by a letter of insult alleging negligence and incompetence.
When he complained to LMCH, he was told that the mediation was “Party Driven” and he wondered why lawyers should be left in the cold in the process in the name of party driven.
According to Atata,this is one of the numerous examples that give lawyers concern and make them apprehensive of the process.
Mr Anthony Atata continued in the interactive session where the Chief Judge of Lagos was present represented by Justice Alogba,Dele Adesina SAN,Moyo Onigbanjo SAN,Justices Oyebanji and Harrison that the biggest threat to the overloading of the Court’s docket is not the reservation of lawyers in embracing mediation but the new guide for the award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Mr Atata pointed out that the new guide provides that an applicant must have concluded twenty cases at the High Court and there is no provision for mediation though ADR is captured.This is why lawyers always opt for trial.
He asked Mr Onigbanjo rhetorically that if he was in the Legal Practitioners Privileges committee and he (Atata) submits 20 cases settled at the LMCH,whether he will recommend him for SAN.The question was received by a thunderous applause from lawyers.
Justice Oyebanji in answering questions urged the Senior Advocates present to take the matter to the appropriate authority in charge of the SAN regulation.
Alex Muoka, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association moderated the event.