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ICC Court administers $53 Billion in new disputes as top business & legal experts in Africa assemble

The aggregated amounts in disputes of the over 1800 cases currently pending before the ICC Court is over USD 255b which represents more than double the GDP of Kenya.

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Leading business and legal experts in Africa have today assembled amid a surge in the adoption of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) on the content. This is in view of the fact that judicial backlog and pending cases continue to take a heavy financial toll on businesses across Africa.

In 2023, the ICC Court administered newly registered commercial disputes for a total aggregated value of USD 53b representing over 70% of the GDP of Tanzania.

The aggregated amounts in disputes of the over 1800 cases currently pending before the ICC Court is over USD 255b which represents more than double the GDP of Kenya.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 8th ICC Africa Conference at Emara Ole Sereni, Diamana Diawara, Director of ICC Arbitration and ADR, Africa, ICC Dispute Resolution Services said, “Very different types of parties chose the ICC Rules to resolve very different types of disputes. And that is the strength of ICC. It is a truly global institution equipped to handle disputes arising out of the transactions of SMEs as well as those originating from the business of multinationals or States or State owned Entities who in Africa represent close to 50% of the users of ICC Arbitration.”

Hon. Justice William Ouko said, “In order to play an active role in ADR processes, judiciaries are investing in training judges, magistrates and other ADR practitioners to improve quality of ADR services and promote ADR… It is for this reason that six of out of the seven justices of the Supreme court of Kenya have in the last few months undergone intensive training and have today joined the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Kenya.”

On State of Judiciary in Kenya

Despite efforts to increase Kenya’s judicial capacity, the number of filed cases rose from 402,243 in 2017/2018 to 423,394 in 2022/2023. According to the State of Judiciary Report (SOJAR), Kenya’s judge-to-population ratio stands at one (1) to 271,189, while the magistrate-to-population ratio is one (1) to 87,037. This shortage has significantly contributed to pending cases, resulting in a growing number of backlogs.

In the 2021/2022 financial year, 678,000 cases were pending determination. As of June 2019, the judiciary faced 341,056 pending cases, with 34% being more than three years old.

Even with this high number of cases in Kenya’s courts, an Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) report found that only 7-9% of disputes are referred to courts while 69% are resolved through ADR mechanisms such as mediation, conciliation and arbitration. About 17% of disputes remain unresolved as disgruntled parties avoid addressing the disputes altogether.

“The best out of court agreement is better than the best court decision… Instead of being before a judge, why don’t I be before arbitrator and within four weeks we get judgement and it is a win-win judgement because it is arbitrated,” said Dr. James Mwangi, Group CEO, Equity Group Holdings Ltd.

The conference takes place from 30th to 31st May. It is the first ever ICC Africa Conference in East and Central Africa.

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