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File disputes with IGRTC before heading to court, State organ urges

By Biko Rading | September 2nd 2020
Acting IGRTC Chairperson John Burugu

The National, County Governments, and other state bodies have been urged to file their disputes with Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC) before battling each other in courts whenever they fail to agree on emerging issues.

According to IGRTC Interim Chairperson John Burugu there have been inter and intragovernmental disputes among County Governments, within institutions and organs of the county governments, and also between organs of County and National Government.

“There have been rampant disputes in the Government and therefore, it’s important for the key players to know that IGRTC exists to assist in finding solutions before the parties go to court. Causes of these disputes have been power distribution, functions as provided in the Fourth Schedule of the constitution,” said Burugu.

“Other causes are the transfer of functions, application of policies and legislations not aligned to the Articles 174 and Articles 175 of the Constitution, County boundaries, revenues, human capital relations such as the Health Workers work relations and environments,” he added.

Mr. Burugu was speaking during the opening of a four-day capacity building workshop on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for the new Members of IGRTC and the Technical Team in Naivasha on Wednesday.
The workshop aims at equipping the eight-Member team which was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta two months ago with ADR mechanisms on Adjudications, Arbitration, Negotiations, and Resolutions as tools of resolving various disputes and the procedures attendant to each process.

Burugu said that currently there are 17 on-going ADR cases, which have been declared to IGRTC while they have managed to settle two cases, with one case going back to court – where parties failed to agree on away forward. The rest of the cases are at various stages of discussion.

Earlier in the year, the Supreme Court pronounced itself that it would only handle intergovernmental cases which have passed through the ADR process with IGRTC and set rules which led to the President’s directive last month for State Agencies and Organs including the County Governments to withdraw cases filed in courts and seek ADR Mechanism.
This implies that IGRTC will soon have an avalanche of disputes filed and hence the need to have adequate preparations in terms of enhancing capacity and skills to handle the workload.

Burugu noted that such a move will be an added advantage to the republic saving the taxpayers the high litigation costs and delays in determining cases that are incurred when parties choose to first use the courts instead of ADR mechanism to settle their scores.

“Litigations are costly and time-wasting hence we must know that one of the core principles of the Constitution guiding the administration of justice and the exercise of judicial authority are the requirements to embrace alternative forms of dispute resolution,” said Mr. Burugu.

He added, “These include traditional dispute resolution mechanisms. ADR policy is a significant step in achieving reforms not only in judiciary but also in Kenya’s endeavour towards the fulfillment, respect, observance, promotion, and protection of the right to Access Justice. ”

Meanwhile, the Acting Chairman praised efforts by the 47 Governors and the President in ensuring the devolution is working by taking resources closer to the people.

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