The Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Norbert Mao has revealed that he is to table a policy  aimed at  regulating the management of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms next week before Cabinet.

Alternative Dispute Resolution -ADR is a mechanism of settling conflicts amicably without necessarily going to courts of law, a concept provided for in law and culturally in African traditional ways.

While addressing the media on Tuesday afternoon, Mao stated that they now have a National ADR Policy waiting Cabinet’s approval. 

He  said the policy  objective is to institutionalize the mechanism of resolution of Disputes in Uganda and that  this  week, he will be in Parliament to wind up a body known as the Center for Arbitration of Disputes.

Mao explained that this body will  now be  within the ambits of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry.

He said  the Ministry will have an office for ADR and the same will be accrediting practitioners of ADR and it will also assemble a body of professionals to approve  a curriculum for study to pass before you are accredited to participate in the same.

Mao added that it  will also prescribe regulations to be followed such that those who go for mediation are handled professionally not in haff hazard manner.  He said this will also ensure that the sector is efficient because it will be coordinated and linked to courts. 

“This however  doesn’t mean that you lose your rights of going to courts,” said Mao. “The courts will still remain alive. As you can see the Judiciary has built new buildings. Our judges will continue adjudicating the cases for those who can’t agree.”

According to the Minister, the courts will also be able to guide which case needs to be mediated. The Policy will strengthen the legal administration frame work and it will streamline and enhance the quality and innovation of ADR practice.

The Justice Minister further noted that it will be a centre of research, knowledge development and it will also leverage Information Communication Technology (ICT).

He said the office, courtesy of the policy, will  also ensure that the sector  is governed well and those who practice  have capacity and that it will  also ensure growth, promote public awareness and encourage  the use of ADR where disputes will be  handled under certain guiding principles.

He made the remarks while addressing journalists together with Supreme Court Justice and Chairperson Governing Council, Judicial Training Institute, Justice Mike Chibita and the Chief Registrar Sarah Langa Siu ahead of the upcoming  Africa Chief Justices’ Summit on Alternative Disputes Resolution.

The Summit is scheduled to be held on March 5 – 6, 2024  and will be held under the theme: “Re-engineering the Administration of Justice on the African Continent.”

The Chief Justices will be gathering in Kampala to discuss how to use Alternative Dispute Resolution -ADR to improve dispensation of justice.

The  participants for the Summit, Justice Chibita said, will include Chief Justices of the Judiciaries across Africa,  Judges, heads of Quasi Judicial Bodies, ADR Practitioners, Professional Societies such as Uganda Law Society, East African Law Society, Engineers , Bankers ,Government Ministries and agencies among others.

Justice Chibita said some of the topics to be discussed at the summit include the role of ADR as an enabler of African Growth and Development, Court Annex Mediation, Arbitration in Banking issues, Justice system models among others. 

He explained the summit will serve as a vehicle of knowledge, emphasizing that the world has since embraced ADR being cheap, flexible and it connects the gap between formal and informal justice.

Other benefits of ADR are highlighted  as reducing case backlog which currently stands  at 43,000 cases and also the mechanism that can help unlock the mystery of the trillions reportedly locked up in the Justice system.

During the briefibg, the Chief Registrar,  Langa Siu also announced that the National Court Open Day will be held on April 9th 2024 at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala. The event was initially  scheduled for 29th February 2024.

In 2022,  the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo indicated that through the use of small claims courts, mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, the Judiciary was able to clear almost half of the case backlog in the justice system which was standing at more than 300,000 cases.

URN.

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