, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 – The Judiciary has taken measures to reduce the backlog of cases with the launch of the Court annexed mediation, a radical move which seeks to exploit alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to reduce accumulation of cases which has been termed as a stain and negative blot on the Judiciary’s image.
Speaking at the launch of the mediation settlement week where approximately one hundred files of old cases will be referred for mediation, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu underscored the Judiciary’s commitment to support mediation efforts meant to boost substantive justice.
“The Constitution of Kenya 2010 envisions a multi-faceted moralistic Judicial authority that recognizes alternative coexistence of ADR and alternative justice system within and alongside the justice system,” she said
Mwilu decried the Judiciary’s application of an adversarial justice system where parties rely on advocates to resolve disputes in courtrooms where a judge acts as an umpire as partly to blame for the serious backlog of cases within the courts which has limited the Judiciary’s mandate.
“Over the past few years, the Judiciary has undertaken significant steps to rationalize and operationalise ADR in our courts and the most notable initiative being the successful court annexed mediation project,” she noted.
The Judiciary launched the Mediation Project on a pilot basis in April 2016 which covered the Family and Commercial divisions of Milimani High Court which according to the Judiciary’s Case Audit and Institutional Capacity Survey conducted in 2015 had a backlog of 22,203 and 5448 cases respectively.
“The pilot phase officially came to an end on the 7th of July and has been widely regarded as a success owing to the 55.7 and 53.8 percent settlement rate in Family and Commercial Division respectively,” reads part of the concept note on mediation settlement week.
Justice Fred Ochieng who chaired the ADR task force, speaking with a sense of accomplishment noted that the cases so far concluded through the initiative stands at 248 and told the audience the backlog will clear eight years sooner if they are referred to mediation.
“As compared to litigation where decisions are made based on the evidence presented and the law, in mediation, parties are encouraged to find their own solutions thereby shortening the length of time it takes to settle a matter,” he pointed out.
Declaring his undying love for mediation which he said resolved a family dispute that had been in the courts for more than three decades, Geoffrey Njenga who spoke on behalf of accredited mediators urged the Judiciary to streamline mediation to keep away quacks and charlatans.
“Mediation works to deliver good and prompt results and also works to deliver sustainable peace. the winner takes it all nature of litigation only leads to temporary peace,” Njenga said.
Depending on the complexity of the case, mediation can take up to sixty days for a case to be determined and decisions are legally binding when parties agree.