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Alternative Dispute Resolution Project Launched

The Principal Judge, Justice Yorokamu Bamwine (centre) at the launch of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) project on March 18 2015 at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala. Looking on is Justice David Wangutusi (Chairperson, ADR Project Advisory Board) and Ms. Harriet Lwabi (Ag. Solicitor General). The Principal Judge, Justice Yorokamu Bamwine (centre) at the launch of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) project on March 18 2015 at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala. Looking on is Justice David Wangutusi (Chairperson, ADR Project Advisory Board) and Ms. Harriet Lwabi (Ag. Solicitor General).

 

KAMPALA -- The Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) today launched the rollout of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) from the Commercial Court of the High Court to other courts and dispute resolution bodies within the JLOS sector. ADR is a mediation process that allows parties to a dispute find a quick solution with the assistance of a neutral third party, without going through the costly and lengthy court process.

Originally piloted in the Commercial Court, ADR is now being rolled out to the other High Court Divisions of Civil, Family, Land and Magistrate Courts. ADR services will also be available in the other JLOS dispute resolution bodies like the Industrial Court, Judicial Service Commission, Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Law Council, the Directorate of Civil Litigation, Uganda Law Society and the Office of the Administrator General.

The Project is expected to contribute to the implementation of the JLOS 3rd Strategic Investment Plan (SIPIII), particularly with regard to increasing the use of ADR in dispute resolution.

The Project will also focus on training a pool of professional mediators across the country, strengthening of court registries for mediation in the Judiciary, conducting sensitization and community outreach programmes. The plan further includes the establishment of a fully-fledged High Court Division for Mediation in the Judiciary and harmonizing structures across JLOS institutions.

Supported by the Austrian Development Agency, the ADR Project provides the JLOS Sector with an opportunity to implement the Judicature (Mediation) Rules of 2013, which makes mediation mandatory in all civil matters including land, family and main civil law.

“Through mediation, the Project provides access to justice for vulnerable and marginalised people whose cases take long to be concluded in the formal justice system,” said Justice David Wangutusi, the chairperson, ADR Project Advisory Board. “Investors and local businessmen would like to do business in a country where disputes would be easily resolved. Much of the money used by these businesses is borrowed from banks at high interest rates. Such money tied up in disputes that stretch over a long time only leads to multiplication of bank interest, and therefore cost of operation, which directly impacts on the profits which the businessman makes, at times leading to collapse of big business ventures.”

The judge says ADR principles shall apply equally to claims in family, civil and land matters. “It is therefore with mediation that the ever-growing backlog can be checked and access to justice enhanced,” added Justice Wangutusi.

 

Background
In the early 2000, mediation was piloted in the Commercial Court as an alternative to litigation, and many cases were successfully mediated. Judicial officers were left with time to try cases which are ordinarily not amenable to mediation – substantially increasing the productivity of the courts, satisfaction, and confidence of court users in the justice system.

Mediation and arbitration have been on the increase since the creation of the Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution (CADER) in 2000.  Between 2003 and 2005 the Commercial Court Division implemented the mediation Pilot Project whereby cases were referred to CADER for mediation.

Mediation became a permanent feature at the Commercial Court with the passing of the Judicature (Mediation) Rules 2013. Following the success story at the Commercial Court, it was decided to rollout mediation at all the courts with the gazetting of the Mediation Rules 2013. It is therefore important that mediation should be embraced by all to win the war on backlog and increase access to justice.

 

 

Published: March 18 2015