By Robert Ssemujju
The Court of Appeal is set to handle at least 61 cases in a day through Appellate Mediation, the newest alternative dispute mechanism (ADR) in Uganda.
Two justices of the Court – outgoing Deputy Chief Justice Steven B.K. Kavuma and Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, who heads the Appellate Court Mediation, – will on September 11 handle 31 cases and 30 cases, each, respectively.
This will be the Court’s maiden attempt at Appellate Mediation, a mechanism popularly used by the courts in the developed world to give quick justice to the people.
Judiciary Deputy Registrar, Mediation/Public Relations Officer, Vincent Emmy Mugabo, said the pilot is in respect to
miscellaneous applications which form the highest backlog in the Court of Appeal. “If dealt with, they will make the work of the Court of Appeal in respect to the handling of the main suits easier. This will be a continuous process in this court and we urge the public to cooperate,” Mugabo said.
On the cause-list for mediation include the high-profile cases of: Electoral Commission vs. Hon. Erias Lukwago, Bob Kasango vs. Paul Nalukoola Muwanga, Uganda Wildlife Authority vs. Hon.
Francis Mukama and Ponsiano Lwakataka vs. Flugence Mungereza and another, among others.
Last year, a team from Strauss Institute of Dispute Resolution, in partnership with Pepperdine University, trained Court of Appeal justices on Appellate Mediation
In this procedure, parties that are dissatisfied with the outcome/decision of the High Court will have an opportunity to settle their appeals quickly with the parties they dragged to the Court of Appeal. They are assisted to settle their matters by a neutral person or judge trained in problem solving.
Justice Kiryabwire, speaking during the launch of Appellate Court mediation last year, said mediation was adopted to reduce case backlog.
“Because of the backlog of cases at Court of Appeal, we found out that it is still possible for parties to resolve their disputes without court hearing and making judgment in civil cases.
Mediation resolves cases more quickly and allows people to resolve their own cases and reconcile with each other without involving lawyers,” said Hon. Justice Kiryabwire.
He said a judge who participates in the mediation process is not allowed to handle the same matter once mediation fails – the matter is automatically allocated to a different judge. �
By Robert Ssemujju