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This study presents a detailed and critical review of the alternative dispute resolution as a non judicial mechanism for the settlement of environmental disputes in the Nigeria Delta region of Nigeria ordinarily, disputes whether environmental or otherwise are resolved through court processes, but due to delays costs publicity and technicality associated with litigation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms evolved. There are several bitter complaints from the victims of pollution in the Niger Delta region that the courts conventionally the last hope of the common man, have not lived up to expectations in environmental litigations thereby justifying their recourse to ADR as a better option. A significant number of environmental cases were lost on flimsy reasons. Today, ADR procedures are considered imperative worldwide, and are used by a wide range of courts, tribunals, organizations and victims of pollution in Nigeria as tools for overcoming environmental impasse, improving the efficiency of difficult negotiations, and achieving durable settlements. It takes different forms as arbitration, mediation, conciliation, negotiation, among other, the detailed discussion of these forms, and their advantages vis-a-vis the courts processes will facilitate an informed appreciation of the use of ADR in the environmental disputes settlement.
1.1 Background of Study
Disputes are generally an inevitable part of human interaction; they may be domestic, international, civil, commercial or economic in nature. Litigation has the traditional method of dispute resolution. Because conflicts are an integral part of human interaction, one must learn to manage them, to deal with them in a way that will prevent escalation and destruction, and come up with innovative and creative ideas to resolve them.
Over the years, litigation in Nigeria has been troubled by the issues and factors affecting it all round the common law world, where we inherited our legal system. The complaint now is that litigation is not confidential, too expensive, time consuming and sometimes complex, making the attainment of justice strenuous and causing delay in resolution of disputes among disputants. Eventually, not all cases of dispute can be resolved by litigation and in the context of resolution, resolution with extreme efficiency.
The concept of ADR can be said to pour oil on troubled waters as relating to wide varieties of disputes brought to its grasp. Settling disputes undoubtedly goes beyond justice but also consideration has to make on the effect of such decision on the relationship between parties which ADR has always strived to uphold. With the spread of ADR programs in the developed and developing world, creative uses for and designs of ADR systems are proliferating. Successful programs are improving the lives of individuals and meeting broad societal goals. There is a critical mass of ADR experience, revealing important lessons as to when, and how to implement ADR projects.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The concept of alternative dispute resolution however broad its contributions to settling disputes in the Nigerian legal system still seems new and unheard of to many prospective litigants.
The unpopularity of alternative dispute resolution is facilitated by the popularity of the normal court proceedings. Many prospective litigants are not also aware of the benefits of settling disputes through alternative dispute resolution rather than through litigation. It is the scenario of an unenlightened disputant and the unpopularity of the concept of alternative dispute resolution that necessitated this research work.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study include the following:
The umbrella term ADR includes various procedures such as negotiation, mediation (one most common form) conciliation and expat determination which involve adjudication and dispute review boards.
(i) Negotiation: Negotiation as a method of dispute resolution refers to talks between conflicting parties who discuss ideas, information and options in order to reach mutually acceptable agreements.
(ii) Mediation: This is usually well known and most frequently used form of ADR. Mediation is a form of neutrally assisted negotiation. In a typical mediation, the mediation will discuss the problem with the parties, both together in open forum, and separately in private sessions.
(iii) Conciliation: This is very similar to mediation in its procedures and first states and in the lateral thinking and about possible solutions which a conciliator tries to ensender. A conciliation assist parties by helping to establish communication clarifying misperception dealing with strong emotions and building the trust necessary for co-operative problems solving.
(iv) Arbitration: Arbitration is a much more formulized method of ADR. In order to make use of arbitration, there will almost always to be an arbitration clause within a contract that both parties would have agree to.
1.4 Purpose of the Study
This research work strives at attaining the under-listed objectives, they
a. To enlighten the public on the less-known benefits of ADR.
b. To spear-head the study and usage of ADR.
c. To assess the effectiveness of ADR in handling disputes in Nigeria.
d. To remedy the issues arising from delay in justice and enable a better and efficient justice system.
1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The scope of this research work is basically directed at the concept of ADR, its contribution and applicability in settling disputes in Nigeria. However, references may be made to other countries and organisations if and when need arises. This is as a result of ADR being a universal and enormous concept.
1.6 Research Methodology
Secondary sources are predominant in the research work. This research work is purely library-based, drawing secondary data from textbooks, law journals, law reports, newspapers, the constitution and the internet.
This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one contains the background of the study which recognizes methodological issues involved in the research and literature review. Chapter two deals with the Nigerian traditional and judicial dispute resolution system, contrasting the Nigerian dispute resolution system and the British adversarial system. Chapter three encompasses the concept of alternative dispute resolution, its meaning, suitability, and legal framework. The justifications and criticisms of alternative dispute resolution. It also looks at the nature and limitations of ADR. It sheds light on various means/methods under ADR: negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and other hybrid processes. It takes a critical look at consensus building and the multi-door court house as relates to the concept of ADR. In chapter four, ADR and few parts of the society are looked at which includes: lawyers, the common man, and the government.
Chapter five of the study features the summary, conclusion and recommendations accordingly.
1.8 Significant of the Study
Significant of the study is to encourage and assist legal researchers interested in seeking answers to pressing questions in the field of dispute resolution through the use of empirical research methods. Such research is a very different undertaking and experience for legal academics like myself who are accustomed to bringing order to unruly judgments in the privacy of their offices. Survey research for instance is a very public and collaborative exercise calling for patience, more patience, tact and cunning. In this paper I will describe some of the methodology and informal practices which lie behind this type of research in the hope that others may gain confidence to pursue their own empirical inquiries in the field of dispute resolution.
1.9 Research Questions
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