The issue of land disputes in Ghana is a common phenomenon. Such disputes are characterized by unending litigations in court, use of land guards to protect the lands and prevent developments, and sometimes develop in violence.
It is a notorious fact that land disputes have caused many to lose investments and capital in land transactions. This continues to inhibit development of lands especially areas where land disputes are very rampant such as developed cities like Accra. Land disputes have also contributed to the underdevelopment of the housing and mortgage industry in Ghana since many times the insecurity of tenures deter and demotivate investors and financial institutions.
Given the effects of disputes on land investments and development, it is important to result to a strategy of preventing, avoiding, managing and resolving land disputes to facilitate nation building and development.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is therefore a relevant tool to adopt in resolving land disputes in the country.
ADR could be defined as the mechanism (s) of resolving disputes other than using formal court process, litigation, by parties involved in the dispute. This includes negotiations, mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
While all these forms of ADR are recognized by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, 2010 (Act 798), it is interesting to note that ADR has still not been accepted as an effective means of resolving land disputes by many people in Ghana. Thankfully, the new Land Act,2020 (Act 1036) has also made provisions for the resolution of land disputes by ADR.
Using ADR helps to fast-track the resolution of land disputes to pave way for developmental projects to proceed. ADR is also a less formal means compared to court litigations which requires a lot of technicalities and the mandatory option of being a lawyer as opposed to the option parties or party having the option to represent themselves or by non-lawyers. This makes ADR less expensive and to a greater extent eliminate undue delays.
Another advantage of ADR is that it is less adversarial and thus makes it the best approach to resolve issues while maintaining relationships. This reduces the risks of disputes degenerating into longstanding enmity, violence and threat to public order and safety.
It is also important to emphasize that resolutions from an ADR process are enforceable as per Act 798. I’m actually fact, Section 52 of Act 798 makes an arbitration award makes it final and binding between the parties in dispute and any person claiming through or under them.
The success of an ADR proceeding is however based on a number of factors such as a ore-existing agreement between the parties to submit their disputes to ADR, the choice of ADR process, the facilitators of the process I.e. the mediator(s), arbitrator(s) and the likes. More important, the success of an ADR also largely depends on the commitment of the parties to resolve the disputes.
It must be stated also that ADR is a very private and confidential process which guarantees the parties the ability to resolve their issues in private. This helps maintain dignity and public image especially for businesses whose projects could easily be destroyed the mere fact that there is a pending litigation on their projects. ADR usually guarantees a win-win situation and encourages peaceful coexistence of parties after settlement and increases the pace of development in every nation. To learn more about ADR contact the writer.