Kisii Law Court has concluded 21 matters that were referred for mediation from 71 matters that were registered. Of the 21 matters, 10 cases were able to reach a settlement agreement within two months. The approximate total value of the 10 matters with settlement was Kshs 3 Million.
The Court Annexed Mediation roll-out was held in five court stations in November 2018 including Kisumu Law Courts which registered 64 matters, Nyeri Law Courts 52 matters, Kakamega Law Courts 35 matters and Mombasa Law Courts 44 matters referred to mediation.
Cases in courts can drag for years before a judgement is given with majority of the cases having matters that can be mediated on. Once a case has been referred for mediation, the process enables both parties to find a solution to the problem through a qualified mediator within 60 days.
Court annexed mediation allows Parties an opportunity to generate home grown solutions to their problems, which aids in bolstering long-term relations between Parties. In Kisii, this has reflected through settlement of family related cases (7 of the 11 children matters referred) where parents have agreed on long term maintenance of their children. Parties engage in negotiations with the help of an experienced mediator to determine how their cases can be resolved. Mediation presents a unique opportunity for Parties to resolve matters that would otherwise take long periods through the court processes.
The Judiciary Taskforce on Court Annexed Mediation, is in the process of rolling out mediation in Nakuru, Garissa, Eldoret, Embu and Machakos in the month of February 2019. The taskforce hopes that mediation will be embraced in all the courts across the country. The roll-out of Court Annexed Mediation in other courts is successfully taking root in courts across the country.
It is anticipated that the number of matters referred for mediation at the Kisii Law Courts will continue to rise as members of the public embrace mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. It has been noted that the instances of non-compliance are reducing by the day partly due to enforcement of pre-trial directions on non-compliance.
Court Annexed Mediation supported by the World Bank through the Judicial Performance Improvement Project (JPIP) and other donors will immensely contribute towards improving timeliness of Judiciary services. Mediation will assist to unlock and release funds held in disputes back into the economy leading to improving ease of doing business in Kenya. But most important it will contribute in mending broken relationships and bring peace not only in the family but in the country.
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 with Ksh.2.4 billion of funds held in disputes being released back into the economy as of July 2018. During the Mediation Settlement Week, the Environment and Land Court (ELC), Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC), the Civil Division at Milimani Law Courts, the Children’s Court and the busy Milimani Chief Magistrates Commercial Court referred matters for mediation. 300 settlement agreements were reached in the 605 matters that were successfully concluded through mediation within that one week period. Court Annexed Mediation is a method that if fully embraced will result in not only having efficiency in courts but matters that tend to drag long in courts will be resolved in the shortest period of time removing the notion of justice delayed is justice denied.
Nicholas Simani SS
Judicial Performance Improvement Project – JPIP