After a successfully pilot of Court Annexed Mediation in Nairobi, the Judiciary has now rolled out the mediation as an Alternative Dispute Resolution method to other counties.
Borrowing from the lessons learnt during the Mediation pilot and Settlement Week in Nairobi, the Chief Justice David Maraga gazetted Practice Directions to guide the rollout of Court Annexed Mediation to 10 Counties, namely: Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Machakos, Garissa, Embu, Kakamega and Kisii.
The Taskforce led by Justice Fred Ochieng that was gazetted to oversee the implementation of Court Annexed Mediation has started carrying out launch activities in the various counties.
Currently, the Taskforce team is in Nyeri and Kakamega counties to engage internal and external stakeholders such as advocates, Court Users Committees (CUCs), mediators, county leaders, media, community leaders and members of the public on court annexed mediation.
Registries will be set up to receive mediation matters and all civil matters filed at the courts will be subjected to mandatory screening and if found suitable, will be referred to mediation. It is expected that the implementation of court annexed mediation will increase efficiency at the Judiciary and enhance access to justice.
The pilot phase that officially came to an end last year has been widely regarded as a success owing to the 55.7 per cent and 53.8 percent settlement rate in Family and Commercial Divisions, respectively.
Mediation is aimed at:
§ Enhancing access to Justice for all
§ Assisting in reduction of backlog
§ Ensuring speedy resolution of disputes
§ Reducing the cost of resolving disputes
§ Creating an atmosphere of accommodation and tolerance
§ Encouraging resolutions suited to parties’ needs
§ Promoting voluntary compliance of parties with resolutions
§ Restoring pre-dispute relationships
§ Increasing in foreign investment
Judge Richard Mwongo issuing the Mediation FAQ booklet to Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga
Court Annexed Mediation is being rolled out by the Judiciary in ten counties across the country. Mediation rollout has already commenced in Nyeri and Kakamega Law Courts and will be followed in Kisii, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Machakos, Garissa and Embu Law Courts from November 2018.
The rollout of Court Annexed Mediation (CAM) will contribute in expediting the reduction of backlog of case. Cases that are taken through CAM will be mediated and concluded within an average of 66 days.
The Court Annexed Mediation was first introduced on a pilot basis at the Family and Commercial Divisions of the High Court. Tremendous results were recorded where Ksh2.4 billion as of July 2018, was released back into the economy.
During the Mediation Settlement Week held in December 2017 the exercise involved other civil courts in Nairobi namely: Environment and Land Court, Employment and Labour Relations Court, Civil Division, Children’s Court and the busy Milimani Chief Magistrates Commercial Court.
Over 300 settlement agreements were reached in the 605 matters that have been successfully concluded through mediation during that one week with a total amount of Ksh 2.9 billion being released into the economy by virtue of the cases that have been resolved through mediation.
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 endorsed Alternative Dispute Resolution as a legal alternative to court proceedings. Article 159 (2(c) encourages courts to use alternative forms of dispute resolution. It states that “Alternative forms of dispute resolution including reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms shall be promoted, subject to clause (3).”
Mediation ensures speedy resolution of disputes, reduces the cost of resolving disputes and most important, it greatly contributes to restoration of relationships.
About 191 strained family relationships have been restored by resolution of cases in the Children’s Court and Family Division. In one case, a Children’s case was settled within an hour and a relationship which had been strained owing to a court battle was restored.
The rollout of Court Annexed Mediation is guided by Practice Direction notice that was gazetted by the Chief Justice. A Taskforce was formed to oversee the rollout and effective implementation of Court Annexed Mediation in respective courts.
The exercise will ensure that internal and external stakeholders such as advocates, court users’ committees, mediators, county leaders, media, community leaders and members of the public are sensitized.
To ensure a successful rollout of CAM to the regions, the Taskforce will oversee the setup of registries to receive mediation matters, identify accredited and qualified mediators. Other tasks will include screening of matters that qualify for mediation are professionally done without bias, mediation rooms are identified and availed, training of judicial officers and staff on mediation processes, procedures and documentation is done and that monitoring and evaluation of mediation process is effectively done.
The Judiciary embarked on measures to address the age old problem of increasing pending caseloads in the courts. It is expected that the implementation of Court Annexed Mediation will increase efficiency at the Judiciary and enhance access to justice.
The Judiciary is in the forefront in ensuring that all citizens have access to justice which is an essential right to the rule of law.
Judge Fred Ochieng who chairs the Court Annexed Mediation Taskforce address members of the public, staff and LSK members in Kakamega on mediation
Justice Fred Ochieng and Kakamega presiding Judge William Musyoka address Court users on mediation at Kakamega Law Courts
The mediation team in Nyeri led by Justice Richard Mwongo pay a courtesy call to Nyeri County Commissioner, Fredrick Shisia