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To Regulate or Not to Regulate ADR Practice in Kenya?

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By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), Winner of Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, ADR Publication of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*

Regulation of ADR is a subject wrought with contentious discourse. There are those who strongly advocate for ADR to be deregulated, while others argue for strong state regulation. On one end, the legislation of ADR carries with it the advantages of encouraging its adoption nationally; establishing standards of ADR practitioner’s competence; developing systems of compliance and complaints;[1] addressing weaknesses of ADR such as ensuring the fairness of the procedure and building capacity and coherence of the ADR field. Proponents of regulation have argued that regulation of ADR will increase the use and demand of services and create or enhance an ADR “market”.[2] There are those who believe that the regulation of ADR may have its value in assuring that the parties employ qualified, neutral and skilled mediators and arbitrators in resolving a wide variety of disputes. However, this is countered by the argument that in mediation where the parties select private non-government mediators, monitoring is complimented by the fact that the parties share in the compensation of such neutrals, better assuring their freedom from bias.[3]

This assertion may be relevant to Kenya considering that private mediators are also appointed and compensated the same way. It is therefore possible to argue that the mediator may be compelled by this fact to act fairly. Contention would, however, arise where there are allegations of corruption. It is not clear, at least in Kenya, how the parties would deal with the same. This is because, unlike in arbitration where parties may seek court’s intervention in setting aside the otherwise binding arbitral award, mediation award is non-binding and wholly relies on the goodwill of the parties to respect the same. Therefore, faced with the risk of corruption and the potential non-acceptance of the outcome by the parties, it is arguable that the foregoing argument of the compensation being a sufficient incentive may not be satisfactory. This may, arguably, call for better mechanisms of safeguarding the parties’ interests.

In arbitration, the argument advanced is that whether of interests or rights disputes, the same process of joint selection and joint funding coupled with mutual selection of neutral from a tried and experienced cadre of professional arbitrators further assures their independence and neutrality, with protection of their integrity as their only ticket to future designations.[4] Again, the issue of independent practitioners would arise. For instance, in Kenya, there has been increased number of professionals taking up ADR. Professional bodies and higher institutions of learning have increased their rate of teaching ADR, as professional course and academic course respectively. The net effect of this will be increased number of ADR practitioners in the country.

As part of professional development, not all of those who get the academic qualifications may enroll with the local institutions for certification as practitioners. There are also those who may obtain foreign qualifications and later seek such certification. However, there are those who are not affiliated to any institution or body. In such instances, it would only be hoped that they would conduct themselves in a professional manner, bearing in mind that any misconduct or unfair conduct may lead to setting aside of the award or even removal as an arbitrator by the High Court. The court process obviously comes with extra costs and it would probably have been more effective to have a supervisory body or institution to report the unscrupulous practitioner for action, without necessarily involving the court. Such instances may thus justify the need for formal regulation, especially for the more formal mechanisms.

Currently, there are attempts to make referral to ADR mandatory in Kenya. This is especially evidenced by the gazetted Mediation (Pilot Project) Rules, 2015, which provide that every civil action instituted in court after commencement of these Rules, must be subjected to mandatory screening by the Mediation Deputy Registrar and those found suitable and may be referred to mediation.[5] Thus, there is no choice as to whether one may submit the matters voluntarily or otherwise. While this may promote the use of mediation where the parties are generally satisfied with the outcome, the opposite may also be true. Caution ought to be exercised in balancing the need for facilitating expeditious access to justice through ADR and retaining the positive aspects of the processes. For instance, in other jurisdictions where there is provision for mandatory promotion of ADR processes, the use of those processes has not necessarily become common.[6]

Among the reasons given for this reluctance towards the adoption of ADR include lack of education and training in the field, lack of court-connected programs, whether voluntary or mandated and insufficient legislation. The argument is thus made that when introducing ADR for the first time, there may be a need for some element of compulsion or legislative control, as this can support its growth.18 This is the path that the Kenyan Judiciary has taken. The Judiciary mediation programme is still on a trial basis and the outcome will inform future framework or direction. The pilot program (having been rolled out to other stations outside Nairobi in May 2018) will define how the practitioners as well as the general public perceive court-annexed mediation and ADR in general. It is therefore important that the concerned drivers of this project use the opportunity to promote educational programming, with the efforts including workshops and seminars among the local practicing lawyers to enhance their understanding of ADR and the services provided by the pilot project. This, it is argued, may enable them to assist their clients in making informed decisions about whether or not to use ADR.[7]

On the other end, it has been argued that legislative regulation, no matter how well meaning, inevitably limits and restrains.[8] The regulation of ADR is feared to hamper its advantages. The developing country’s experience with court-annexed ADR indicates that when a judge imposes a conciliator or mediator on the parties, it does not provide the proper incentive for the parties to be candid about the case. ADR advantages such as low cost, procedural flexibility, enhanced access for marginalized groups and a predictable forum for conflict management tend to disappear when there is discretionary power with court personnel, procedural formalities within the ADR process or an artificial limit to competition within the ADR market. Court mandated mediation has been argued to negate the fundamental aspects of voluntariness and party control that distinguish it from litigation, the very aspects attributed to its success in a vast number of cases.[9]

In addition, the “one size fits all” approach taken by legislation that encourages or requires all to use ADR, without regard to needs in various contexts and to the distinctions among the various processes, is another reason why ADR legislation should be undertaken with caution.[10] For instance, in the Kenyan situation, while the Mediation (Pilot Project) Rules, 2015 require screening of civil matters for possible submission for mediation, it is possible for the Registrar to realise that some of the cases may be appropriate for arbitration instead of mediation. The programme only takes care of mediation process with no reference to arbitration or any other process, well, apart from litigation.[11]

The question that would, therefore, arise is whether the Registrar has powers to force parties into arbitration as well. Further, if they have such powers, the next question would be who would pay for the process, bearing in mind that it is potentially cost-effective but may be expensive as well. On the other hand, if the Registrar lacks such powers, it is also a question worth addressing what the Court would do if it ordered the parties to resort to arbitration but both parties fail to do so due to such factors as costs. It is, therefore, worth considering whether the Mediation Accreditation Committee, established under the Civil Procedure Act,[12] should have its mandate expanded to deal with all processes, or whether there should be set up another body to deal with the other processes.[13]

*This article is an extract from the Article Regulating Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Practice in Kenya: Looking into the Future, 10(1) Alternative Dispute Resolution Journal, p. 1 by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya). Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized as one of the leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts by the Chambers Global Guide 2022.

References.

[1] Robert, J.M., ‘Florida’s Experience with Dispute Resolution Regulation: Too much of a Good Thing?’ Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium, available at http://consensus.fsu.edu/ADR/PDFS/FloridaADR.pdf [Accessed on 26/02/2022].

[2] Zack AM, ‘The Regulation of ADR: A Silent Presence at the Collective Bargaining Table,’ p.4, Seventh Annual Conference of the ABA Dispute Resolution Section Los Angeles, California, April 15, 2005, available at http://www .law.harvard.edu/programs/lwp/people/staffPapers/zack/The%20Regulation%20of %20ADR-ABA%207 th%20conference.pdf [Accessed on 26/02/2022].

[3] Zack AM, Ibid.

[4] Zack AM, Ibid.

[5] Mediation (Pilot Project) Rules, 2015, Rule 4(1).

[6] Leon, J.A.R, ‘Why Further Development of ADR in Latin America Makes Sense: The Venezuelan Model’, Journal of Dispute Resolution, Vol. 5, No. 2, (2005).

[7] Muigua, K., “Enhancing The Court Annexed Mediation Environment in Kenya,” A Paper Presented at the 2nd NCIA International Arbitration Conference held from 4th to 6th March 2020 in Mombasa, Kenya; Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Enhancing-The-Court-Annexed-Mediation-Environment-in-Kenya-00000002.pdf.

[8] Bryan, K. & Weinstein, M., ‘The Case against Misdirected Regulation of ADR,’ Dispute Resolution Magazine, (Spring, 2013).

[9] Hedeen, T., “Coercion and Self-determination in Court-Connected Mediation: All Mediations Are Voluntary, But Some Are More Voluntary than Others,” The Justice System Journal Vol. 26, No. 3 (2005), pp. 273-291.

[10] Spencer D, ‘Court given power to order ADR in civil actions’ (2000) 38(9) Law Society Journal 71 at 72; NADRAC, above note 3 (as referenced in Green, Cameron, ‘Where did the ‘alternative’ go? Why Mediation should not be a Mandatory Step in the Litigation Process, DR Bulletin, Vol. 12, No. 3, Art. 2, 2010.

[11] Muigua, K., Ibid.

[12] S. 59A, S.59B, Cap 21, Laws of Kenya.

[13] Muigua, K., Ibid.

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Review: Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1

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The Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Volume 9, Issue No. 1, which is edited by and published by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD is out and stays true to the reputation of the journal in providing a platform for scholarly debate on thematic areas in the fields of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development. The current issue published in September 2022 covers diverse topics including Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in Africa; National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya; Protection of Cultural Heritage During War; The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya; Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya; Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation; Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World; Status of Participation of Women in Mediation; Business of Climate Change and Critical Analysis of World Trade Organization’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment.

Dr. Wilfred A. Mutubwa and Eunice Njeri Ng’ang’a in “Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in an Integrating Africa: An Appraisal of the Role of Regional Arbitration Centres” explore the nature of disputes in the realm of oil and gas in Africa taking a look into the recent continental and sub-regional developments in a bid to establish regional integration. Additionally, it tests the limits of intra-African trade and dispute resolution and the imperatives for the African regional courts and arbitration centres. In “National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua discusses the role played by the National Environment Tribunal (NET) in promoting access to justice and enhancing the principles of sustainable development in Kenya. The paper also highlights challenges facing the tribunal and proposes recommendations towards enhancing the effectiveness of the tribunal.

Dr. Kenneth Wyne Mutuma in “Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of War: A Case for History,” argues that cultural heritage is at the heart of human existence and its preservation even in times of war is sacrosanct. It concludes that it is thus critical for states to take positive and tangible steps to ensure environmental conservation and protection during war within the ambit of the existing international legal framework. In “The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya,” Jack Shivugu critically evaluates the role of water in the attainment of sustainable development in Kenya and argues water plays a critical role in the attainment of the sustainable development goals both in Kenya and at the global stage. The paper interrogates some of the water and Sustainable Development concerns in Kenya including water pollution, water scarcity and climate change and suggests practical ways to enhance the role of water in the Sustainable Development agenda.

Dr. Paul Ogendi in “Collective Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya,” reflects on property rights in relation to human biological materials obtained from research participants participating in genomic research. He argues that property rights are crucial in genomic research because they can help avoid exploitation or abuse of such precious material by researchers. In “Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua notes that Wetlands have a vital role in not just delivering ecological services to meet human needs, but also in biodiversity conservation. Wetlands are vital habitat sites for many species and a source of water, both of which contribute to biodiversity protection. The paper examines the role of wetlands in biodiversity conservation and how these wetland resources might be managed to improve biodiversity conservation.

Oseko Louis D. Obure in “Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World,” preponderance of disputes between States or States and Investors created need for a robust, effective, and efficient mechanisms not only for the resolution of these disputes but also their prevention. He notes that developing states lead in being parties to Investor-State Disputes (ISD) particularly as respondents. He proceeds to conceptualize and problematize investor-state disputes resolution in a fast-paced world. Lilian N.S. Kong’ani and Dr. Kariuki Muigua in “Status of Participation of Women in Mediation: A case Study of Development Project Conflict in Olkaria IV, Kenya” review the status of participation of women in mediation to resolve conflicts between KenGen and the community. The paper demonstrates a need for further democratization of the mediation processes to cater for more participation of women to enhance the mediation results and offer more sustainable resolutions.

Felix Otieno Odhiambo and Melinda Lorenda Mueni in “The Business of Climate Change: An Analysis of Carbon Trading in Kenya analyses the business of carbon trading in the context of Kenya’s legal framework. The article examines the legal framework that underpins climate change into the Kenyan legal system and provides an exposition of the concept of carbon trading and its various forms. Michael Okello, in “Critical Analysis of World Trade Organisation’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment: Prospects, Challenges and Emerging Trends in the 21st Century,” highlights the rationale behind MFN treatment and also restates the vision of multilateral trade to achieve equitable and special interventions with respect to trade in goods, services and trade related intellectual property rights in the affected states.

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Dr. Kariuki Muigua: The Making of Top Arbitrator in Africa

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African Arbitrator of the Year 2022 Dr. Kariuki Muigua's Journey to the Top of ADR in Africa is a Case Study of Excellence

The journey of Dr. Kariuki Muigua to becoming the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022 has seen him painstakingly and consistently research, teach, write, edit, publish, train, mentor and practice arbitration, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), conflict management and dispute resolution for the last 30 years with excellence as a leading lawyer, authoritative scholar and ADR expert. Today, Dr. Kariuki Muigua, Phd, C.Arb is a Chartered Arbitrator and the African Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022. He is an advocate of 33 years standing and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. He is also the author of the Leading Textbooks on ADR, Mediation and Arbitration including the seminal Settling Disputes Through Arbitration in Kenya, now in 4th Edition. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is ranked at Band 1 by Chambers & Partners among the leading Arbitrators in Kenya noting that “He has been involved in several ground-breaking arbitrations,” “has an astute understanding of arbitration” and “is respected for litigation.”

Dr. Kariuki Muigua is also both the founder, publisher and editor of Africa’s leading Conflict Management Journal as well as one of the PhD Academics who majored in resolution of Natural Resources and Environmental Conflicts using mediation. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is also a leading author in the area of conflict management and has published several books on the topic including Resolving Conflicts through Mediation and Natural Resources and Environmental Justice in Kenya. It is these exploits that have left many of his admirers convinced that his next stop would be Professorship and admission to the Rank of Senior Counsel.

As an ADR Practitioner, Dr. Muigua was declared the first ever winner of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Kenya Branch) ADR Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honour given by the Institute to one member every year for his immense contribution to the growth of practice, research and scholarship of ADR in Kenya and across Africa. The award came barely a week after Dr. Muigua had won the coveted Law Society of Kenya ADR Practitioner of the Year Award at the 4th Edition of the Nairobi Legal Awards. LSK recognized Dr. Muigua for his outstanding practice in ADR and especially arbitration and his role as mentor to many lawyers venturing into the area. Dr. Kariuki Muigua was also awarded the ADR Publisher of the Year for his scholarship, authorship and editorship of leading research and publications on ADR in Africa including the Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development and Alternative Dispute Resolution, the Official Journal of the CIArb (Kenya).

The tripartite awards have been hailed by many of Dr. Kariuki Muigua’s peers in the ADR and Arbitration fraternity as a fitting tributes to his made immense contribution to mainstreaming of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and especially arbitration as way of resolving disputes in Kenya, East Africa and across Africa in the last two (2) decades. Indeed, starting in 2002 when Dr. Muigua took the Special Member Course leading to membership to the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb), Dr. Muigua one of the staunchest advocates of ADR in Africa in addition to becoming the foremost intellectual voice shaping ADR practitioners and scholars of the future. The contribution of Dr. Kariuki Muigua to the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) sector has taken many shapes and forms including as a practitioner, leader, policy maker, scholar, author, trainer, mentor and trailblazer among others.

Dr. Muigua is a leading Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioner in Kenya, Africa and the world at large who has been recognized nationally and globally by peers. The world leading peer-reviewed lawyers’ directory, Chambers and Partners, rates Dr. Kariuki Muigua as one of the best alternative dispute resolution experts in the country. It describes as ‘a highly respected arbitrator and mediator with a sterling background in commercial and constitutional cases, as well as matters relating to the environment and natural resources.’ The most recent ranking adds: “Kariuki Muigua of Kariuki Muigua & Co is held in high regard by market commentators for his role in the Kenyan arbitration sphere. He possesses stellar experience in commercial and constitutional disputes, as well as environmental matters and those relating to the extractive industries. In addition to being “a big noise in the arbitration association,” he is widely recognized for his academic work.”

Dr. Muigua has served in many panels as an arbitrator appointed by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb)-Kenya, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (NCIA), the London Court Of International Arbitration (LCIA) and the International Court of Arbitration under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) on several occasions as a sole arbitrator and a member of arbitral tribunals in arbitrations involving commercial disputes. He has vast experience and expertise in adjudication and has sat as both as a panel member and a chairperson in various adjudication Boards both locally and internationally. He is also an accomplished mediator and has successfully presided over numerous matters both as a private mediator and a court appointed mediator under the Court-Annexed Mediation program in Kenya.

Dr Muigua was elected (unopposed) to the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) Board of Trustees as the Regional Trustee for Africa, for the term beginning 1 January 2019. Previously, he served as the Branch Chairman of CIArb-Kenya from 2012 to 2015. He also served CIArb as Member and past Chairperson of the Sub-committee on Information Technology (IT), CIArb and as Member of the Legal Committee Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) – Kenya chapter. He is a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb)-Kenya chapter. He is also a member of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) and Kenya Branch. He is also a Member of Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC) and Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (NCIA). For his contributions, he was awarded Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Chairman’s Medal with a citation for exemplary service in December, 2015.

In policy-making, Dr. Kariuki Muigua is currently a member of the National Steering Committee for Formulation of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy representing the Academia since 2020. The team is providing guidance and overseeing the process for formulation of a national policy and institutional framework on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Kenya. He has also served as Member of the Meditation Accreditation Committee Panel of Mediators Accredited for Commercial Mediation under the Judiciary of Kenya. Recently, he led negotiations that achieved partnership with Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK on GPR 625 (International Commercial Arbitration) for University of Nairobi LLM students to achieve membership status without further tests, 2020 to 2023.

On ADR Scholarship, Dr. Muigua is the author of the leading textbook on Arbitration in Kenya, namely, Settling Disputes through Arbitration in Kenya, now in its 4th Edition (2022) and available for free download, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Access to Justice in Kenya (2015) and Resolving Conflicts through Mediation in Kenya (2013). He has been cited hundreds of times as an ADR Scholar, contributed at least 3 chapters of published books, authored dozens of peer-reviewed articles in the areas of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution and presented over two dozen papers on ADR in diverse fora. Dr. Muigua has also facilitated numerous trainings, workshops and conferences on ADR. He has supervised and supervised at least two (2) completed PhD thesis on ADR, Dozens of Masters Thesis and is supervising three (3) PhDs in the area as a lecturer and mentor in ADR practice and scholarship. Dr. Muigua is a lecturer in International Commercial Arbitration at the University of Nairobi and tutor, trainer and assessor at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Kenya Branch).

Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Chartered Arbitrator (since January 2015) and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (since October 2010) and Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (since 2002). He holds a Diploma in Arbitration (2012) and became Accredited as a Mediator by the Mediation Training Institute in 2015. He is also a renowned consultant on ADR Law and Practice and has authored reports whose recommendations had far reaching impact on the sector. As a professional who strives to attain excellence in the legal and ADR arenas, Dr. Muigua has gone out of his way to put ADR in the frontline as one of the leading modes of dispute resolution in Kenya, Africa and at global stage. Dr. Muigua is a holder of a Ph. D in law from the University of Nairobi and has widespread training and experience in both international and national commercial arbitration and mediation. Previously, he served as the chairperson, Department of Private Law of the University of Nairobi School of Law 2020-2021.

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Overcoming Hindrances to International Commercial Arbitration in Kenya

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By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), The African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021*

In the face of globalisation, it is important that international trade and investment take place with minimal interference by territorial barriers such as unnecessary domestic courts’ intervention. It has been asserted that the settlement of disputes between parties to an international transaction, arbitration has clear advantages over litigation in national courts. The foreign court can be an alien environment for a businessman because of his unfamiliarity with the procedure which may be followed, the laws to be applied, and even the mentality of the foreign judges.

In contrast, with international commercial arbitration parties coming from different legal systems can provide for a procedure which is mutually acceptable. They can anticipate which law shall be applied: a particular law or even a lex mercatoria of a trade. They can also appoint a person of their choice having expert knowledge in the field. Thus, it is argued that these and other advantages are only potential until the necessary legal framework can be internationally secured, at least providing that the commitment to arbitrate is enforceable and that the arbitral decision can be executed in many countries, precluding the possibility that a national court review the merits of the decision.

There is a need to employ mechanisms that will help nurture and demonstrate Kenya to the outside world as a place with international commercial arbitrators with sufficient knowledge and expertise to be appointed to arbitrate international arbitrators. There is also the need to put in place adequate legal regimes and infrastructure for the efficient and effective organization and conduct of international commercial arbitration in Africa. This ranges from legislating comprehensive law on international commercial arbitration as well as setting up world class arbitration centres in Kenya to complement the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (NCIA).

There is also the Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (CADR) which is an initiative by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Kenya and was incorporated in May, 2013. Its objective is to establish and maintain a regional Dispute Resolution Centre in the country. The CADR is a positive step towards nurturing international commercial arbitration in Kenya. This will afford the local international commercial arbitrators the fora to showcase their skills and expertise in international commercial arbitration and will also attract international clients from outside Africa. It has been noted that there should be basic minimum standards for international commercial arbitration centres or institutions. These include: modern arbitration rules; modern and efficient administrative and technological facilities; Security and safety of documents; Expertise within its staff; and some serious degree of permanence. There is a need to set up more regional centres for training of international commercial arbitrators in Africa and Kenya.

The Kenyan Chapter of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators trains arbitrators across Africa and has trained arbitrators in countries like Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda and even Malawi. Kenya can indeed play a pivotal role in nurturing international commercial arbitration, not only in Kenya but also across the African continent. There is also need for the existing institutions to seek collaboration with more international commercial arbitration institutions since this will work as an effective marketing tool for the exiting institutions. For instance, the Kenyan Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Branch maintains a close relationship with the International Law Institute (ILI) Kampala and the Centre for Africa Peace and Conflict Resolution (CAPCR) of California State University to conduct Courses in Mediation and other forms of ADR both locally and internationally.

There is need for all African centres and institutions to do the same to promote international commercial arbitration in Africa. The Kenyan law on arbitration appreciates the need to limit court intervention in arbitration to a basic minimum. It has been argued that the relationship between the courts and the arbitral process can be made much closer, both practically and psychologically. The psychological link can be strengthened by encouraging all or at least a good number of the commercial judges and advocates to take up training in arbitration and consequently ensuring that they benefit from having prior experience of arbitration either as representative advocates or actual arbitrators. This will subsequently boost the confidence of foreigners in the African Arbitration institutions as well as the role of courts. Effective and reliable application of international commercial arbitration in Kenya has the capacity to encourage investors to carry on business with confidence knowing their disputes will be settled expeditiously.

In essence, there is need to develop a clear framework in Kenya within which international commercial arbitration can be further nurtured. There are arbitral institutions already in place in Kenya as highlighted in this paper. The presence of such institutions in the country points to an acceptance of alternative dispute resolution modes as well as the need to nurture the practice of international commercial arbitration other than exporting commercial disputes to foreign countries for settlement. With the right frameworks in place, Kenya indeed has the capacity to conduct successful international commercial arbitration. Nurturing international commercial arbitration in Kenya is a necessity whose time has come.

*This article is an extract from published article Nurturing International Commercial Arbitration in Kenya,” by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), CIArb (Kenya) ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Foremost Dispute Resolution Expert in Africa ranked among Top 6 Arbitrators in Kenya by Chambers and Partners, Leading Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized as one of the leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts by the Chambers Global Guide 2022 and is ranked among the Top 5 Arbitrators in Kenya in 2022 by The Lawyer Africa. 

References

Muigua, K., “Nurturing International Commercial Arbitration in Kenya,” Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Nurturing-International-Commercial-Arbitration-in-Kenya.pdf (accessed 15 July 2022).

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