This research aims to assess the effectiveness of the Lagos State Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) in resolving disputes and facilitating alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. While the concept of the multi-door courthouse is innovative and promising, this study seeks to identify the challenges that hinder its optimal functioning and proposes recommendations for reform.

The findings of this research will contribute to a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the LMDC and other Multi-Door Courthouses (MDC) like it, with the goal of enhancing their effectiveness in promoting access to justice and reducing the burden on traditional court systems. Furthermore, by addressing the challenges faced by the LMDC and implementing the recommended reforms, we can ensure that alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are utilized to their full potential and provide efficient and equitable solutions for disputing parties in Lagos State.


The Lagos State Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) is a trailblazing institution that aims to change the landscape of dispute resolution in Nigeria. The LMDC was founded to provide an innovative platform for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in response to increasing caseloads and a desire for more accessible justice. However, questions have been raised about its effectiveness in attaining its stated goals. Against this backdrop, the purpose of this research is to completely examine the LMDC's efficacy, identify existing difficulties, and suggest reform ideas.

1.1 Objectives:

The primary objectives of this research are threefold:

  • Assess the LMDC's Effectiveness: Compare the LMDC's dispute resolution success rates to those of comparable successful MDCs around the world. This entails analyzing case outcomes while taking into account factors such as the nature of the dispute and the parties' desire to engage in ADR.
  • Identify LMDC issues: Conduct a qualitative investigation to identify issues and concerns impeding the LMDC's optimal operation.
  • Make Reform Recommendations: Based on the findings, make reform recommendations to increase the LMDC's ability to provide effective alternative dispute resolution. This offers recommendations for dealing with challenges such as low knowledge, limited resources, and the enforcement of mediated settlements.


The traditional court processes in Nigeria, while deeply rooted in the country's legal history, were marred by inefficiencies, delays, and a backlog of cases that hindered timely justice delivery. Litigants faced protracted legal battles, escalating costs, and a system that struggled to keep pace with the growing demands for resolution. For example, in Ekiri v. Kemiside & Ors, the Supreme Court set aside a judgement that was about 16 months late, similarly, in Joseph Ozoma & Ors v. M. Osanwuta, The verdict was delivered 17 years after the case was filed. These difficulties prompted a rethinking of the existing legal framework and a search for more effective conflict settlement mechanisms.

In reaction to the limits of traditional court proceedings, Nigeria, and particularly Lagos State as the country's commercial core, embraced the concept of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a means of relieving the legal system's load. ADR, which comprises mediation, arbitration, and conciliation, has evolved as a viable alternative to protracted litigation, providing disputants with speedier, more cost-effective, and more flexible routes for resolving disputes.

The pivotal moment in this transformation was marked by the establishment of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) on June 11, 2002, it was groundbreaking initiative that set a precedent not only in Nigeria but across Africa. The LMDC, conceived as a result of a strategic public-private partnership, became the first-of-its-kind institution on the continent, symbolizing a commitment to innovative approaches to dispute resolution. The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) is a court-connected Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre that provides a number of ADR processes such as Mediation, Arbitration, Early Neutral Evaluation, and Hybrid Processes. The LMDC's mission is to augment litigation as a resource for justice by providing increased, timely, cost-effective, and user-friendly access to justice.

The LMDC law was enacted in 2007, cementing its position as a pioneer in the field of court-connected Alternative Dispute Resolution Centres. The institution's objectives were established in Section 29 of the LMDC Act of 2007, reflecting the high expectations placed on it. The section includes the following:

  • To enhance access to justice by providing alternative mechanisms to supplement litigation in the resolution of disputes.
  • minimize citizen frustration and delays in justice delivery by providing a standard legal framework for the fair and efficient settlement of disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
  • serve as the focal point for the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Lagos State; and
  • promote the growth and effective functioning of the justice system through Alternative Dispute Resolution methods.

The establishment of the LMDC was met with widespread optimism, with stakeholders’ hopeful that it would not only alleviate the burden on the traditional court system but also pave the way for a more efficient, accessible, and fair approach to dispute resolution in Nigeria. However, as subsequent challenges emerged, there arose a need to critically evaluate the LMDC's effectiveness and propose reforms to address any shortcomings in achieving its laudable objectives.


In an interview with This Day Live Newspaper, the Chairman of the Governing Council of LMDC iterated the successes of LMDC: how it receives 2000 cases annually and how, from 2017 to 2022, it had resolved 38.5 billion naira worth of disputes . Nonetheless, to truly assess the effectiveness of the Lagos State Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC), it is crucial to conduct a comparative analysis with other successful multi-door courthouses worldwide. This section aims to identify best practices and key differences that may provide insights into improving the LMDC.

3.1 Case Studies of Successful Multi-Door Courthouses:

  • Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC): The SMC has been recognized for its efficient case management and successful resolution of disputes, with over 67% of matters settled, more than 90% of which were resolved within one day. A key feature is the utilization of skilled mediators with specialized expertise in various sectors. The LMDC could benefit from adopting a similar specialization approach to enhance the quality and relevance of mediation services.
  • Netherlands Mediation Institute (NMI): The NMI is renowned for its commitment to mediator accreditation and rigorous training programs. The LMDC could explore strengthening mediator qualification standards and implementing continuous training to ensure a high level of professionalism and competence among its mediators.
  • Dubai Multi-Door Courthouse (DMCC): The DMCC is known for its integration of technology in dispute resolution processes, providing online case filing and virtual mediation options. Considering the global shift towards digitalization, the LMDC could enhance its accessibility by adopting similar technological solutions to streamline case management and facilitate remote dispute resolution.


  • Limited Awareness and Outreach: The underutilization of the Lagos State Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) is significantly attributed to a lack of public awareness and outreach initiatives. Many individuals and businesses in Lagos State remain unaware of the benefits of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provided by the LMDC. This lack of awareness diminishes the potential for parties to consider the multi-door courthouse as a viable option for resolving their disputes.
  • Procedural Complexities: The complex and unfamiliar nature of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures within the LMDC may act as a deterrent for potential litigants. The intricate processes involved in mediation, conciliation, and arbitration can be intimidating, particularly for individuals unfamiliar with ADR. This complexity may result in parties opting for traditional court litigation due to perceived simplicity.
  • Resource Constraints: Insufficient resources, both financial and human, pose a significant challenge to the effective functioning of the LMDC. Although Mult-Door Courthouses do benefit from government subsidies, they remain limited and incapacitated. The growing caseload, coupled with limited resources and subpar infrastructure hampers the courthouse's ability to handle cases efficiently and expeditiously, potentially undermining the confidence of users in the ADR system.
  • Mediators' incompetence and lack of quality training: The incompetence and lack of quality training of the Mediators or Arbitrators involved in the process has resulted in a time-consuming undertaking for the disputants and their legal representation. If they are not properly trained or lack the required skills to allow efficient communication and negotiation between the parties, the ADR process may fail to achieve the goal for which the institution was established.
  • Compellability Constraints: Enrolment of parties and legal representatives in the ADR process has consistently posed difficulties. In contrast to litigation, where a court summons mandates the respondent's appearance, ADR relies on the voluntary engagement of the involved parties. To address instances where parties, particularly in "walk-in" cases, decline to participate in the ADR process, the Lagos State High Court has designated ADR judges. These judges are tasked with evaluating whether parties comply with ADR procedures, either before or after presenting reasons for their non-compliance.


  • Institutional Support and Independence: Successful multi-door courthouses often have strong institutional support and operate independently. Assessing the level of autonomy and support provided to the LMDC within the Lagos State judiciary will be crucial in understanding its capacity to function effectively.
  • Feedback Mechanisms and Continuous Improvement: Many successful multi-door courthouses prioritize feedback mechanisms and regularly assess and improve their processes. Implementing a structured feedback system and periodic evaluations could help the LMDC identify areas for improvement and adapt to changing needs.
  • Community Engagement and Stakeholder Collaboration: Engagement with the legal community, businesses, and the public is vital for the success of multi-door courthouses. The LMDC could strengthen its ties with local legal practitioners, businesses, and community organizations to increase awareness and foster a collaborative approach to dispute resolution.

5.1 Recommendations 

  • Launch a comprehensive public awareness campaign to educate the public on the LMDC's existence, benefits, and processes. To guarantee broad outreach and awareness, this campaign should use a variety of platforms, including social media, community events, and collaborations with local groups.
  • Simplify and streamline LMDC ADR procedures to make them more accessible and user-friendly. Create instructional tools, such as booklets and online resources, to help debunk myths about the ADR process and provide clear information on the stages involved. Provide orientation meetings or workshops to potential litigants to familiarize them with the procedures and benefits of ADR.
  • Provide the LMDC with more financial resources to help it manage a larger caseload. This may entail obtaining financing for staffing, technology upgrades, and infrastructure modifications. Explore collaborations with other groups, such as non-profits or foreign organizations, to complement resources and assist the LMDC's objective.
  • The abilities required to facilitate efficient communication and negotiation between the parties are primarily determined by the quality and training of the Mediators or Arbitrators involved in the process. If this is not addressed, the ADR procedure may not work as intended, resulting in appalling failures.


Finally, the findings of this study highlight the vital need for a thorough evaluation of the Lagos State Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) and its existing position within the larger context of conflict resolution methods. The creation of the LMDC was a key step toward diversifying the channels through which disputes are resolved, with the goal of relieving the load on traditional court systems, improving efficiency, and promoting a more accessible judicial system. However, a closer examination exposes a number of issues that limit the multi-door courthouse's ideal operation, needing serious modifications for its long-term viability.

In essence, the suggested recommendations seek to turn the Lagos State Multi-Door Courthouse into a responsive and dynamic alternative conflict resolution process. The LMDC can become a cornerstone of the Lagos State justice system by addressing the stated concerns through public awareness campaigns, procedural straightforwardness, professional trainings and resource allocation. The successful implementation of these ideas has the potential not only to improve the efficiency and accessibility of the multi-door courthouse, but also to relieve the strain on traditional courts, contributing to the overall effectiveness and fairness of Lagos State's justice system. The journey toward a more robust and accessible judicial system necessitates a communal commitment to change, with the LMDC serving as a model of innovation and accessibility in conflict resolution.

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