Trade disputes valued Sh38 billion in courts are denying Kenyans jobs and derailing business opportunities that would have generated taxes for national development.
A report by the Court Annexed Mediation (CAM) Committee reveals that 16.7 percent of civil suits referred to mediation since 2016, valued Sh7.4 billion, were concluded after parties settled disputes amicably allowing projects and contracts to continue to fruition.
The regions implementing mediation were Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Machakos, Garissa, Embu, Kakamega, Kisii, Malindi and Nyamira.
The 2019 report said 650 arbitrators under judiciary’s payroll were available to handle matters giving litigants an opportunity to negotiate for settlement of disputes at nominal cost.
“As at October 3, the seven Courts/Divisions in Nairobi referred 1,941 matters for mediation where 1,542 were concluded and 725 matters settled,” it says.
Regional courts also reported referring 1,828 matters for mediation where 1,206 were concluded and 640 matters marked as settled.
As parties wrangle and lawyers earn representative and appearance fees, the CAM committee has proposed expansion of the arbitration jurisdiction to 11 more regional courts to complement the work done by the inaugural CAM centres.
It added the roll-out will largely depend on funds’ availability to remunerate mediators, activate CAM registries as well as train judges, judicial officers and staff on the mediation processes.
Under CAM, all civil disputes registered before court must first be set to CAM registries where the documents will be scrutinised by a judicial officer and a decision made on suitability of cases to be referred either to the courts or to the arbitration panels.
“We need adequate staff to process, screen, capture CAM events in data systems and availability of an efficient court-based monitoring of mediation process to ensure quality,” it said.