Law News
Supreme Court cases to open for mediation

Lawyers and litigants may start having the opportunity to settle their cases that have been litigated up to the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, through mediation, as from October this year, The PUNCH has learnt.

A centre where such mediation can take place is being put in place by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who has at various fora expressed worry over the overwhelming cause list the apex court was contending with.

Earlier in February this year, the CJN indicated at a public forum that the Supreme Court had about 10 years backlog of appeals yet to be attended to.

Our correspondent learnt on Thursday that the ongoing project of establishing the Supreme Court Mediation Centre was at the stage of drafting the rules that would guide its operation and identifying cases that were suitable for it.

Criminal cases are not likely to be among the appeals suitable for the centre.

The rules drafting committee, our correspondent learnt, is headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima.

Sources familiar with the ongoing process of establishing the Supreme Court Mediation Centre said, though the full implementation of the project would take 18 months, it would open in the new legal year, which starts in September.

A consultant engaged by the Supreme Court, Dr. Kehinde Aina , confirmed the development to our correspondent on the telephone.

“The CJN is highly committed to the project. The stage we are now is the drafting of the rules. The centre is likely to open in the new legal year,”Aina, who is of the NCMG International engaged by the Supreme Court to set up the centre, said.

The NCMG International was involved in the setting up of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, which is the centre set up by the Lagos State judiciary to handle cases suitable for mediation.

Our correspondent could not confirm the cost implication of the project embarked upon by the Supreme Court.

The CJN was said to have derived inspiration for the setting up of the Supreme Court Mediation Centre from the success of similar outfit in the Supreme Court of Mauritius and the LMDC.

The Supreme Court is currently overburdened with thousands of cases piled up for 10 years yet unattended to.

In February this year, Justice Mohammed, at a public dialogue organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, on ‘The future of the administration of justice in Nigeria’, in Abuja said over 800 appeals were filed at the Supreme Court in 2014 alone with 10 already filed in 2015.

He said, “The current reality paints a sobering picture. The number of cases pending before the courts has reached critical proportions and we must use all appropriate means to stop it from spiraling out of control.

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