JUDICIARY COUNTING GAINS OF COURT ANNEXED MEDIATION SYSTEM
The Judiciary has made some remarkable strides in the Alternative Justice System, particularly in Court Annexed Mediation (CAM), established five years ago and as recently captured by Chief Justice Martha Koome in her assumption of office speech; the project will greatly contribute in reduction of case backlog.
Following the launch of CAM in Nairobi in 2016, the Judiciary has established mediation in 12 other
regions. Litigants seeking CAM to resolve long-standing matters can now get assistance at registries
in Mombasa, Tononoka, Eldoret, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Machakos, Garissa, Embu, Kakamega, Malindi, Nyamira and Kisii Law Courts.
The mediation taskforce chaired by Justice Fred Ochieng has embarked on rolling out mediation to other stations. Soon, litigants in Kerugoya, Siakago, Kitale and Kapsabet will have CAM registries where they can have their matters resolved fast and amicably.
Besides speeding the wheels of justice, the biggest achievement of CAM has been in helping unlock resources to the economy in billions of shillings. It is conservatively estimated that since its inception, CAM has unlocked more than Sh10 billion which had been held back in the economy due to adversarial court litigations.
Another benefit of mediation is that it is less emotionally draining compared to court cases. This has assisted to restore many broken relationships as it provides parties with the opportunity to settle disputes in a reconciliatory manner. The Judiciary is in the process of ensuring all family courts implement CAM, thereby ensuring amicable resolutions.
Additionally, mediation saves on time of resolving disputes. CAM has proved this by improving on the
timelines for resolving civil matters. Under the adversarial court trials, it takes an average of 673 days
(close to two years) to settle simple civil matters and longer for complex matters. But with the adoption of CAM, matters are settled within 70 days.
The speedy settlement of cases through mediation has contributed to Kenya’s improved ranking in the
2020 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index at 56 out of 190 countries. In the overly competitive world of international business; this kind of ranking is a big deal and is worth billions of dollars in the business world.
Furthermore, in a study con ducted by Law Development Partnership, it is estimated 100 per cent roll out of CAM will help clear case backlog in record time. As mediation continues to grow its roots, there has been an increased collaboration among key stakeholders. They include the general litigating public who have realised the system is faster and reconciliatory.
Other partners embracing mediation are lawyers who were previously perceived to be against the alternative justice system. However, this has proven opposite as lawyers are top among accredited as mediators. There has also been significant achievement in developing policies, rules, and practice directions and now the conversations on the legislations that govern ADR are in process.
As mediation gets entrenched into the country’s legal system, it will have significant potential not merely for reducing the burden of case backlog in courts, but more fundamentally, bringing about a qualitative change in the focus of the legal system from litigation to mediation of disputes.