The Judiciary has announced plans to enhance mediation as a leading strategy to deal with all civil disputes filed in courts in order to fight case backlog. Speaking at the opening of a weeklong training of judicial officers in Kampala yesterday, acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma said the initiative will tremendously reduce case backlog as well as improve public confidence in the Judiciary.
“Resolution of disputes is faster. The parties design their own solutions rather than have one impose upon them and a win-win situation is created. Reconciliation, which is a cardinal principle in our Constitutional dispute resolution process, is therefore achieved,” Justice Kavuma said.
He also said mediation offers quick and easy resolution of disputes where compliance to such solutions is likely to go on without further proceedings.
Mediation is a process that allows parties to design solutions to the dispute between them with the assistance of a third party who is neutral and makes no decision except to assist the parties arrive at their solution.
The judiciary established the Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution leading to the implementation of mediation on pilot basis by the Commercial Court where 33 per cent of the referred cases were successfully mediated.
According to the Annual Report of Commercial Court Division, mediation registration in 2013 had an overall work load of 623 constituting 468 filed cases in the same year and 155 cases brought forward from 2012.
“Out of these, 383 cases were finalised which is a disposal rate of 60.7 per cent. This rate, however, dropped from 73.1 per cent that had been registered through the previous year. This was attributed to the small number of accredited mediators,” Justice Kavuma said.
He added: “Outside that percentage, other cases went on to be settled in court before completion of trial partly as a result of the work initiated in that mediation project, applying rules, the court through its registrar continued to offer mediation as an alternative to litigation.”
Justice David Wangutsi, the Head of High Court Commercial Division described mediation process as a time saving initiative which allows judicial officers time to handle cases which are ordinarily not agreeable to mediation.
“This substantially increases the productivity of the court. Most importantly, satisfaction and confidence of court users in the justice system is enhanced in line with this year’s commitment to render justice to all manner of people through timely adjudication of disputes without discrimination,” he said.