Over Sh.500 billion involving commercial and family cases is held up in the Judiciary which are still pending in courts across the country.
The High Court Judge, Justice Aggrey Muchelule said that there were 549, 556 pending cases as at June 2018 across Kenyan Courts despite concerted efforts by the Judiciary to reduce the backlog.
Justice Muchelule who chairs the taskforce on the implementation of the Court Annexed Mediation process said the situation has compelled the Judiciary to embrace mediation as an alternative to resolving civil litigations.
The Judge termed the advent of the Mediation Courts as a critical move in the judicial transformation agenda in the wake of scarce resources, adding the country only has 450 magistrates and 150 Judges who preside over litigation for the 47 million plus Kenyans.
“The Court Annexed Mediation process provides a structured framework where a trained mediator midwives a settlement initiated by litigants hence making it binding to the aggrieved parties,” said Muchelule
The Judge said the Judiciary has embraced the process after results from the 2014 pilot launch at the Family and Commercial Division of the High Court in Milimani, Nairobi showed that cases resolved through the Court Annexed Mediation were not only finalized faster but added the process also helped to preserve mutual relations between the aggrieved parties.
Muchelule, who was speaking at the launch of the Court in Kisumu on Tuesday, disclosed that 605 of 887 cases that were delegated to the Court Annexed Mediation from a total of 1, 981 cases screened at the High Court since 2016 have been successfully concluded.
He said this represents a 50 per cent plus in the settlement rate which is an increase from 28.5 per cent registered at the onset of the process.
Justice Muchelule said over Sh.2.9 billion that was tied up due to the pending cases has been released back to the economy following successful settlement of the cases.
The launch of the pilot mediation process also led to a reduction in case backlog at the High Court from 162,772 to 98, 688 as at 30th June 2018.
“Of critical importance is that the mediated process offers a speedy resolution of disputes with some of the cases recorded to have dragged for decades resolved in less than 60 days”, said Justice Muchelule.
The introduction of the court mediation has also been credited with the improved position of Kenya in the 2017 World Bank Ease of Business Index that has placed the country at position 80 up from 92 in 2016.
Justice Muchelule also clarified that CAM draws legitimacy from Article 159 (2C) among other relevant legal provisions that enables the Judiciary to embrace alternative forms of dispute resolution.
Consequently, more than 22 mediators have been trained ahead of the launch with each mediator set to receive Sh. 20, 000 for each case concluded satisfactorily.
Besides Kisumu, nine other counties are slated for the initial launch of the mediation courts including Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyeri, Machakos, Garissa, Embu, Kakamega and Kisii.
The High Court Registrar, Judy Omange and the Presiding Judge at the Family Division of the High Court, Lydia Achode are the other task force members in charge of the implementation of the Court Annexed Mediation who addressed the Kisumu forum.
By Milton Onyango