Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has become successful in resolving many legal disputes including marital conflict between spouses, land-related disputes and other issues. The service is provided by the government free of charge.
ADR is a method of resolving disputes outside traditional litigation in court.
Most justice-seekers opt for ADR after they spend a lot of time and money in court over their cases.
Take the case of Halima Begum who had to roam the courts in vain for two years over a land dispute before her case was settled through the ADR service within two weeks.
The district legal aid officer settled the issue on July 23, 2019, compensating the victim Tk50,000.
Another plaintiff named Sheuli filed cases under the Children and Women Repression Prevention Act-2000 and Prevention of Dowry Act-1980 after her husband tortured her and drove her out of the house.
Sheuli found herself in deep trouble after she sued her husband because her husband had countersued her, and soon they were juggling 11 other cases against each other.
While the cases were going on, Sheuli went to the Dhaka district Legal Aid office on October 11, 2017.
Through mediation by Legal Aid official Rajesh Chowdhury, both sides signed an agreement to settle the disputes in an alternative way and to withdraw the cases.
The National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO), where ADR is available, solved the dispute in a single day.
Thanks to ADR, Sheuli Bhowmik, got Tk.3,20,000 as compensation from her former husband.
Another petitioner Maksuda Khanom said, after her relations with her 8 siblings over the distribution of 4 Kathas of paternal land deteriorated seriously, she learnt through electronic media about the free-of-cost legal aid service provided by the government.
She said she went to the NLASO on December 11, 2018, and got her due share of the property that very day.
Maksuda expressed her gratitude to the legal aid officer Advocate Alamgir Hossain for his support throughout the process.
In 2018, a total of 205 people applied for resolution of their disputes under ADR in the Dhaka district legal aid office. This aid office also recovered Tk 36,10,500 as compensation.
A total of 87 lawyers- 46 male and 41 female advocates - work at the office to provide legal support to people who are unable to afford legal costs.
Advocate Abdul Jabbar, assistant director of mediation and litigation of BLAST (Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust) said, “The court is overcrowded with different types of unsolved cases. The judiciary is overloaded with a huge number of cases where the litigants spend a lot of time in getting justice.”
“ADR is the only process where both parties can resolve their differences in a short time,” he added.
The ADR system has been gaining popularity in the country as litigants are frequently harassed in court premises. Justice seekers feel that the ADR saves them from court lethargy.
The NLASO has a hotline number 01755889090 at its Dhaka office to provide primary information on legal aid.
Under this facility, anyone can get necessary guidelines for legal aid service and its procedure through a phone call from any part of the country free of cost.