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Judiciary to set up mediation suites in efforts to reduce backlog

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The Judiciary has embarked on setting up Mediation Suites and registries in Court Buildings which will be multi-use facilities.

Chief Justice Martha Koome said that this will be achieved through mainstreaming mediation, conciliation, Alternative (Traditional) Justice System (AJS) and arbitration as integral and legitimate part of the dispute resolution system in line with article 159(2)(C) of the Kenyan Constitution.

“Therefore, when we speak of “Mediation First”, we are not diminishing the importance of courts or litigation instead, we are expanding our horizons. We are acknowledging that for many disputes, there are more amicable, more efficient, more context-sensitive, and indeed, more holistic avenues of resolution than traditional litigation,” Koome noted.

Koome said this on Wednesday when she presided over the launch of Intercontinental Mediation Summit themed, “Mediation First: Exploring New Horizons Today and Beyond.”

The CJ said that through Court Annexed Mediation, a program institutionalising mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism and promoting a culture of mediation in the country, a total of 15,211 matters valued at approximately Sh 55 billion have been referred to Court Annexed Mediation.

Out of these cases, 5,048 have been concluded successfully.

“The value of the matters that have been concluded successfully and funds previously locked up in litigation released back to the economy stands at approximately Sh. 33 billion,” said Koome.

She explained that with respect to the number of accredited mediators, from an initial 74 accredited mediators in 2016, they now have 1,292 accredited mediators, 661 of whom have active status.

She said the Summit was timely considering that Kenya Judiciary have embarked on the pursuit of an ambitious strategic vision called ‘Social Transformation through access to Justice (STAJ)’ aimed at putting in place a people centred Justice system that ensures access to Justice for all persons.

Koome further added that the Judiciary have identified the promotion of a multi-door approach to dispute resolution as a key area of focus in pursuit of this outcome.

“Given the huge number of cases pending before our courts, it is clear that despite the best efforts to clear the backlog by our hardworking Judges and magistrates, the issue of delayed resolution of such disputes will remain a thorn in our flesh unless we expand our Horizons,” said the CJ.

She explained that in addition to Court Annexed Mediation, the judiciary have now moved a step further by embracing Private Settlement Agreements.

“Private Settlement agreements have the potential to prevent further build – up of case backlog in our Judiciary as cases are resolved without first being filed in court unlike in Court Annexed Mediation where existing court cases are referred to court annexed mediation,” said Koome.