15 African Chief Justices to jet in Uganda for key summit

15 African Chief Justices to jet in Uganda for key summit
15 African Chief Justices to jet in Uganda for key summit

Africa-Press – Uganda. At least a total of 15 Chief Justices across Africa had by Wednesday confirmed their participation in next week’s Kampala summit on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), the Judiciary has announced.

The meeting is aimed at having the African courts encourage litigants to settle their disputes without going through the long, time-wasting argumentative process.

“15 Chief Justices have confirmed and also two Chief Justices emeritus. We shall be receiving more confirmations,” Sarah Langa Siu, the Chief Registrar said on Tuesday while addressing journalists ahead of the summit.

The judiciary indicates that participating countries include Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Ghana, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Somalia, Gambia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, and Benin.

At least two retired chief justices from Malawi and Zimbabwe have also confirmed attendance, according to Langa.

Explaining the importance of the two-day summit, Justice Minister Norbert Mao said it’s aimed at forging a way of having disputes resolved without going to court.

“It is not an alternative, in other words, it’s not a substitute. It also doesn’t mean that if you opt for an alternative dispute resolution, you lose your right to go to court,” Mao explained.

“This concept of alternative dispute resolution is not new; it’s provided for in the Ugandan Constitution. It also provided for in the International Human Rights Standards that Uganda is a signatory to. Even culturally, we always resolve disputes. You can continue being good neighbours if you resolve matters without going to court,” he added.

Further, the minister noted that at least Shs85 trillion has been locked up in the Commercial Court alone, highlighting that if ADR mechanisms had been adopted, such money wouldn’t be held out of circulation.

Supreme Court Justice Mike Chibita said the event will enable judiciaries of Africa to rethink alignment and positioning ADR as a key, if not the primary mechanism for resolution of disputes in the next quarter of the 21st century.

He also listed some of the key topics to be discussed at the summit.

They included the role of ADR as an enabler of Africa’s economic growth and development, taking stock of Africa’s regulatory approaches, arbitrating banking and finance-related disputes, Africa as a destination for investment; and ADR as a dispute resolution forum for choice for investment disputes.

Justice Chibita also named some of the advantages that come along with adopting alternative dispute resolution.

“It’s cheaper, faster, convenient, and can clear the 43,000 backlogged cases in the Judiciary were some of the benefits that he said would come along with litigants resolving cases out of court.”

Early February, President Museveni in a message to the judges during the opening of the New Law Year, encouraged them to adopt ADR, reasoning that it’s a good initiative for finding solutions to quicken the justice system process.

Meanwhile, the theme for the two-day summit is “Reengineering the Administration of Justice on the African Continent.”

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