Adoption of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Kenya has unlocked potential worth billions of shillings in local and foreign investments, Chairman to the Taskforce overseeing the implementation of Court Annexed Mediation Justice William Musyoka has said.
Justice Musyoka who is also the Presiding Judge at the High Court in Kakamega noted an influx of foreign investment in Kenya had seen parties seek alternative dispute-resolution methods such as arbitration and mediation.
These methods, he said were cheaper, quicker and less messy alternatives to litigation.
He said the World Bank ranked Kenya third in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 2017 World Bank Ease of Business Index, moving up 12 places from 92 in 2016 to a global ranking of 80.
Presiding over the mediation roll out in Nakuru, Justice Musyoka noted that determinations made through a mediation process were more acceptable to all parties as compared to judgments delivered by judicial officers.
“The time for settling a dispute has reduced from 50 months in Commercial and Tax Division and 43 months in Family Division respectively to an average of 66 days.
“At any forum of commercial justice, the crucial question is always how much it costs businesses and individuals engaged in a dispute of a commercial nature. The time and money spent in the pursuit of a resolution is critical. Quick resolution of commercial disputes has made Kenya a preferred investment destination,” he said.
“A mediator does not make decisions. He allows parties to make decisions themselves. Levels of acceptance are very high and best suited to interests of all parties. In litigation, decisions are made by a judicial officer who is a third party and they may not be satisfactory,” he noted.
Court Annexed Mediation has already been rolled out in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Kakamega and Kisii.
Justice Musyoka said the Judiciary had also given parties in disputes a chance to mend their broken relationships through mediation and save millions of shillings held up due to their differences.
“Rather than let courts make decisions for parties in dispute, the Judiciary, through mediation, empowers parties to make their own decisions that suit them best and in the process foster an environment for reconciliation,” said Justice Musyoka.
Justice Musyoka said a total of Sh.2.9 billion had been released into the economy by virtue of cases that have been resolved through mediation. The backlog of cases has reduced from 162,772 to 98,688 by June 30th last year.
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 endorsed alternative forms of dispute resolution.
“Article 159 (2) (C) of the Constitution promotes all forms of alternative dispute resolution including reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms,” explained the Judge.
By Anne Mwale