Sh52bn Injected Into Economy Through Court Annexed Mediation

The Judiciary has released approximately Sh52.1 billion back to the economy, funds raised from the expeditious resolution of cases through Court-Annexed Mediation.

Data released today by the Judiciary shows that a total of 16,770 matters out of 18,162 referred to Court-Annexed Mediation had been resolved, translating to a 92.3 per cent conclusion rate.

Chief Justice Martha Koome said the settlement rate has been improving yearly, noting that the last financial year 2022/23 saw a settlement rate of 51.2 per cent; while in the current year 2023/24, the settlement rate is at 54.98 per cent with the average case running days at 73 days.

CJ Koome made the remarks in a speech read on her behalf by Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu during the start of a two-day 2nd Annual Mediation Summit on Employment Disputes held on Thursday at Strathmore University, Nairobi.

The summit theme, which has now shifted focus to labour relations, is ‘Harmonising Labour Relations: Fostering Social Justice and Economic Growth Th
rough Mediation’.

Since last year’s summit on ‘Mediation and Banking,’ over 400 matters have been referred to mediation in the banking sector alone.

‘Since last year’s summit that focused on banking, 446 matters have been referred to mediation, and this has seen the release of approximately Sh7 billion back to the economy,’ said Koome.

She announced that Court-Annexed Mediation has been rolled out in 40 counties, and efforts are being made to bridge the gap in the remaining seven counties, with 60 mediation registries supporting 118 courts having been established.

The CJ also stated that there has been a gradual increase in the number of accredited mediators, which has grown up to a total of 1,515, with 832 of them having active status.

‘We are actively seized by the challenges relating to the timely settlement of mediator fees, and I want to use this opportunity to assure you that we are working on long-term solutions to this challenge,’ she added.

Koome acknowledged that labour relations are inherentl
y complex, woven with the threads of human dignity, economic necessity, and social equity.

‘In a world where industrial disputes can arise as swiftly as the winds change, mediation stands as a beacon of hope-a tool that can transform conflict into consensus and adversity into opportunity,’ the Chief Justice opined.

She noted that mediation in labour disputes is about finding the middle ground where the rights of workers and the needs of employers coalesce to create a harmonious workplace, and ensuring that every voice is heard, every concern is addressed, and every outcome is just.

The CJ also stressed that the mediation balance is critical not just for the well-being of workers and the success of businesses, but for the overall health of our economy and society.

‘As we navigate through the challenges of globalisation, technological advancements, and shifting economic landscapes, the need for effective conflict resolution mechanisms becomes increasingly evident,’ said Koome.

She further noted that the Em
ployment and Labour Relations Court has, over the last decade, leveraged mediation to resolve some of the most complex labour disputes.

‘I am happy to share with you that a total of 1,929 employment and labour relations matters have been referred to mediation. 1,796 of these matters have since been concluded, which translates to a 93.1 per cent conclusion rate.’

The settlement rate for employment and labour matters referred to mediation from January 2024 to April 15, 2024 is at 52.21 per cent, with current average case running time of 36 days for these matters.

The CJ underscored that mediation, with its principles of confidentiality, voluntariness, and neutrality, offers a unique avenue for addressing labour disputes and fosters a collaborative environment where parties can explore mutually beneficial solutions, unlike traditional litigation, which often exacerbates the adversarial nature of disputes.

In his remarks, Employment and Labour Relations Court Principal Judge Byram Ongaya said the court has em
braced and recognised Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms as an effective approach to resolving disputes relating to employment and labour relations.

He said alternative dispute resolution mechanisms provide an opportunity to find innovative solutions that are mutually beneficial or not available in ordinary court proceedings.

‘ADR and Alternative Justice Systems are clearly the way of the future for workspace and workplace disputes. Their role in making justice our true shield and defender is apparently more crucial than can be achieved by court proceedings,’ Justice Ongaya told the conference.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore, who graced the opening ceremony, termed mediation as a catalyst for broader societal transformation through fostering social justice within workplaces.

‘Mediation not only offers a means to address traditional labour disputes but also provides a flexible framework to navigate emerging challenges in the world of work,’ she said.

CS Bore said that by embodying pri
nciples of fairness, equity, and respect, mediation transcends differences and fosters sustainable solutions that benefit all stakeholders.

Source: Kenya News Agency