Adoption of alternative dispute resolution methods by the Uganda judiciary will help reduce the case backlog that has rocked many law courts in the country, stalling proceedings for a long period, a senior international law advocacy officer has said.
Speaking at a dinner hosting judges from the Federal High Court of Nigeria and Ugandan judges in Kampala recently, the Executive Director for International Law Institute (ILI), Mr Swithin Munyantwali, said alternative dispute resolution is one way of promoting judicial effectiveness and legal reform in sub-Saharan Africa.
Alternative dispute resolution is a legal practice adopted in the Commonwealth countries to settle disputes without necessarily going to court. The process saves time and money among litigants.
Mr Munyantwali said the Nigerian government is sponsoring a one-week specialized seminar in International Commercial Arbitration. “The current programme, titled International Commercial Arbitration, furthers the interests in legal institutions to effectively adjudicate commercial disputes and reduce case backlogs with a view of promoting investment and development,” Mr Munyantwali said. He said ILI has conducted trainings for the Nigerian judiciary in Singapore and Malaysia in alternative methods of dispute resolution.
The Uganda judges were led by Commercial Court head Justice Stella Arach while the Nigerian delegation of judges was led by Justice D. D Abutu. Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire from the Commercial Court Division praised Uganda for being among the only three countries worldwide to adopt alternative dispute resolutions methods. The other two countries are Nigeria and India.
Justice Kiryabwire said arbitration is an African way of dispute resolution and that although it faced resistance at first, because judges and lawyers said it was outside their jurisdiction, it is now being embraced.
Recently, the Law Development Centre received Euros 60,000(Shs171 million) from the Government of Netherlands to carry out a review of its curriculum and structure, to include alternative dispute resolution methods.
LDC Deputy Director and spokesperson Percy Night Tuhaise told Saturday Monitor that the review was necessitated by the current changes in law and trends and therefore need to have curricula reflecting modern legal trends.