Make use of alternative dispute resolution

Patrick Kajuma Kagaba

What you need to know:

  • ADR can play a formidable role in creating harmony among the different stakeholders in this part of the world especially if we honestly utilise the skills of experts in that area.

The Ugandan court systems have, of late, progressed and become more appreciative of global developments and thus bringing about the establishment of other dispute resolution mechanisms in the administration of justice that are efficient and accessible; faster and cheaper.

This is where the issue of Alternative Dispute Resolution (commonly referred to as ADR) comes in. 
ADR is a structured negotiation process under which the parties to a dispute negotiate their own settlement with the help of an intermediary who is a neutral person and trained in the techniques of ADR. 
The various strategies involved in ADR include negotiation, conciliation, mediation, mini-trial/early neutral evaluation, court annexed ADR and arbitration. This is the trend applied in the most developed countries of Canada, USA, UK and Norway to mention just a few. There exists an eminent gap as conditions on the ground in the present day Uganda show an influx of commercial, political and socio-cultural disputes due to a myriad of factors including a boom in trade or commerce and associated evils, question of supremacy and longevity in political domains, political pluralism and quest for democracy, self-interests of different people involved in procurement and public policy sections, land ownership and tenure systems, religious wars and civil strife, cultural practices and the existing law among others.

ADR can play a formidable role in creating harmony among the different stakeholders in this part of the world especially if we honestly utilise the skills of experts in that area.
Today, some contracts involve specialist knowledge of say a specific area of history, science, culture or trade. And application of ADR mechanisms encourage continued business relations because they are reconciliatory in nature and lead to win - win situations.  To take a wider view of ADR, imagine if there were ADR mechanisms in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, wouldn’t this war have been averted, imagine if there were genuine ADR mechanisms between LRA/ADF against government, wouldn’t we have enjoyed total peace and stability in these areas of the country. And imagine if we invested in ADR mechanisms on the existing political questions in Uganda including the succession and transition issues, wouldn’t we end the anarchical and potentially volatile situations that seemingly portend today.

 Or better still, would this phenomenon of ADR be inculcated in all government organs including the entire Ugandan citizenry so that the wasteful court processes and inconveniences could be circumvented. In May 2000, Uganda enacted the Arbitration and Conciliation Act thus adopting the UNCITRAL Model Law. Would we appreciate this initiative and put it into practice for speedy, friendly and mutual execution of all disputes in our mother land. 

Justice F.M.S Egonda Ntende, once rightly remarked that, the divine authority for ADR is in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 5 verses 25-26. Hence Our Lord Jesus said. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth: you will not get out until you have paid the last penny”.


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