Judiciary to launch out-of-court case resolution-Method faster, cheaper, expected to slash case backlog


31-August-2012

The symposium’s delegates in a souvenir picture

This follows a nearly unanimous endorsement of the method by the country’s legal fraternity and top judges from the region who weighed the advantages of such a system over the traditional court hearings.

The judges, magistrates, top lawyers from the attorney general’s (AG) chambers as well as those in private practice met at Baie Lazare’s Kempinski resort to discuss the system, generally known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.

They noted the method is often faster and cheaper and likely to cut the nearly 400 outstanding cases, some of which were filed as far back as 1998.

When addressing members of the bench and of the bar present, Mr Egonda-Ntende said the system is ironically called the ADR yet it should in fact be the preferred option.

He explained ADR refers to the possible of settlement of disputes rather than through a trial in the ordinary courts, saying:

“It is not available as of right, except if provided for by an agreement, like access to a court system is, for many jurisdictions. It is alternate to the ordinary system of adjudication of disputes. Some commentators on the subject say it is a misnomer to refer to it as alternative, believing that it is the more appropriate method of dispute resolution than the adjudication through the court system.

“They propose that it should be referred to as the Appropriate Dispute Resolution, thus maintaining the acronym of ADR,” he said, referring to the Bible verses in which Jesus advised people to settle their disputes outside court saying:

"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."

Mr Egonda-Ntende said ADR takes a number of forms, namely negotiation, mediation, neutral case evaluation, Rent a judge and arbitration, whose details we hope to publish tomorrow.

Among foreign guests present at the symposium were Martin Okumu Masiga of the Africa region chapter of the International Commission of Jurists – which organised the meeting in collaboration with the judiciary of Seychelles, former chief justice Sakala of Zambia, justice James Munange Ogoola who chairs the Judicial Service Commission of Uganda, and madam justice Chui Yew Cheong who heads the mediation division of the Supreme Court of Mauritius.

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