Kenyans asked to settle rows out of court
By Wilfred Ayaga
| September 15th 2014
Kenya: Judges and magistrates have called for faster adoption of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms as a way of saving on litigation costs and streamlining delivery of justice in the country.
Speaking during a seminar on continuous professional development for legal officers in Nairobi, the judges asked their colleagues and other legal practitioners to embrace alternative means of settling disputes to save litigants the agony of spending huge sums of money on legal fees and related costs.
Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association Chairman Justice Fred Ochieng’ encouraged lawyers to use new legal practice directions for proper case management.
He said directions issued by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on the use of ADR to resolve disputes would radically transform courts.
“Lawyers, judges and magistrates should peruse details of the new practice directions published in the Kenya Gazette Special Issue dated July 28,” he said at the function attended by more than 570 lawyers.
Commercial court’s Justice Johnny Havelock said the Constitution recognises ADR mechanisms and warned Kenyans against the perception that courts had a monopoly over justice delivery.
“The idea that there is only one just result of every dispute, which only the courts can deliver is, I believe, often illusory. Judicial resources are limited and their cost is usually borne – at least partly – by the State,” Justice Havelock said.
Havelock, who presented a paper titled ADR for courts said lawyers and judicial officers need to be trained on ADR.
The lack of awareness on ADR has seen many Kenyans rushing to court to solve disputes that could be handled through other mechanisms.
Senior counsel Kenneth Fraser said the case management system introduced by the new practice direction would fast track dispensation of justice.
“The new directions are aimed at dealing with all interlocutory and preparatory matters at the case conference,” Fraser said.
He told participants the CJ’s directions also give the judge control over the preparation and progress of cases.
Kevin McCourt, who presented a paper on Amendments to the Court of Appeal Rules, said the proposed amendments seek to ensure access to expeditious justice delivery.
“There are a total of 28 proposed amendments to the rules and lawyers must participate in the process,” McCourt said.
Mutunga’s directions are aimed at dealing with the huge backlog of cases in courts. The CJ had said the Judiciary was committed to expediting delivery of justice in the courts in accordance with Kenyans’ wishes.
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