A Mediation Advocacy expert, Mr Adeyemi Akisanya, on Thursday urged mediators to take advantage of online mediation in resolving disputes.
Akisanya, a Lagos-based lawyer and a certified mediation advocacy trainer, made the appeal during a two-hour Webinar training organised by the Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates (SCMA) in Lagos.
The trainer focused on the topic: “Future of Mediation, Post-Covid-19 Pandemic (Prospects and Challenges)”.
He said that online dispute resolution would be a major prospect for post-COVID-19 mediation practice.
According to him, the COVID-19 lockdown has caused disruption in all aspects of life, politics, court sittings, businesses and even family life.
He noted that the pandemic had brought several imbalances.
Akisanya said the COVID-19 lockdown situation was an unanticipated and sudden disruption of routines which online mediation sought to ease the imbalances.
He said: “Where there is limitation to access to court during the ongoing lockdown, there is flexibility of online mediation because the mediator and the disputants do not depend on physical locations.
“In the normal litigation procedures even if they are to meet online as well, they will have to contend with procedural rules.
“In mediation practice, the mediator is able to table the procedures and processes in carrying out the mediation.
“Flexibility makes online mediation attractive where restrictions are preventing court sittings and the speed within which disputes could be resolved online, makes it cost effective.”
He, therefore, said that post-COVID-19 mediation practice would take a new level of importance, saying that post- COVID-19 online dispute resolution was not an obstacle but an opportunity.
“If not for this lockdown we would have been having this meeting somewhere in a hotel but here we are having it online without anyone going through traffic jam before arriving the venue,” he said.
Akisanya, however, stressed that online mediation had its challenges which included ensuring that government rules were followed.
He said: “Legal provisions in mediation like consolidation of agreement documents must be strictly followed to ensure that there are no loopholes that will cause online mediation settlement agreements to be thrown away.’’
The trainer also said it would not be possible for a person not present to sign signature in online mediation practice.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)