The Judicial Service Commission has launched an Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism also known Court Annexed Mediation in Kisumu County.
Justice Aggrey Muchelule who presided over the launch at the Law Courts in Kisumu said the Court Annexed Mediation process provided a win-win situation to the parties in a civil dispute.
“The Court Annexed mediation provides a structured framework where a trained mediator midwives a settlement that originates from and is therefore acceptable to the aggrieved parties,” said Justice Muchelule.
Muchelule spoke on Tuesday while addressing stakeholders during an awareness forum for the local court users committee and explained that it was easier for parties in a mediation case to embrace the settlement since they were actively involved in the resolution.
He said that the mediation alternative therefore helps to circumvent the adversarial nature of mitigated settlements where one of the aggrieved parties must come out as the loser.
The alternative courts therefore, he said, play a critical role in helping preserve relationships that would otherwise be severed under the mitigated settlements.
The Judge pointed out that the Court Annexed Mediation is also credited with an improved ranking of Kenya in the third place in the sub-Saharan Africa in the 2017 World Bank Ease of Business Index moving up 12 places from 92 in 2016 to 80 in global ranking.
In terms of constitutionality, notes the Judge, the Court Annexed Mediation draws its mandate from Article 159 (2 (C) of the Kenyan 2010 Constitution among other relevant legal provisions that encourages the judiciary to establish alternative dispute resolution mechanism in the discharge of its mandate.
The Judge termed the advent of the Mediation Courts a critical move in the judicial transformation agenda in the wake of scarce resources given the country only has 450 magistrates and 150 Judges expected to preside over litigation for the 47 million plus Kenyans
Besides Kisumu, nine other counties are slated in the initial launch of the mediation courts, including Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyeri, Machakos, Garissa, Embu, Kakamega and Kisii.
The pilot phase of the project started at the Family and Commercial division of High Court in Nairobi and is recorded to have realized a 50 per cent settlement rate up from 28.5 per cent at the launch of the programme with over Sh.2.9 million released to the economy by virtue of cases resolve through mediation.
At least 22 mediators have been trained and accredited to oversee the takeoff of process in Kisumu with each to be paid Sh.20, 000 for every case successfully handled.
Muchelule however, pointed out that the Court Annexed Mediation is specific to civil litigation with only cases screened and approved based on laid out criteria handled through the process
The High Court Registrar, Judy Omange and the Presiding Judge at the Family Division of the High Court, Lydia Achode who are also members of the taskforce on the implementation of the Court Annexed Mediation also addressed the Kisumu forum.
By Milton Onyango