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Some of the Key Issues to Consider in Legislating ADR in Kenya



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*

As the Government pursues the policy of encouraging ADR to foster a more conciliatory approach to conflict management through legislation, it important to ensure that parties have a choice on whether to use or not ADR and their obligations, rights and duties when they should to participate in ADR should be clearly defined. Thus, while there are obvious limitations to the use of formal law in regulating ADR given the diverse contexts in which ADR is practiced, where legislation is opted for, the following issues should as far as possible be addressed to provide clarity to the ADR process and reduce potential challenges to the ADR outcome.

Referral of disputes to ADR

Law makers need to decide which method of ADR referral should be employed. Referral may be compulsory by a court or voluntary, where parties are at will to decide whether to submit their dispute to an ADR forum. It may also be mandatory or at the discretion of the referrer, as contemplated in the Mediation (Pilot Project) Rules, 2015. The Civil Procedure Act provides for discretionary compulsory referral as well as voluntary referral. Where there is compulsory participation, it is important that there be established professional standards for the process as well as for the practitioners, to ensure a quality process and a quality outcome. These processes also need to be described so as to effectively promote public confidence.

It is noteworthy that one of the main reasons why most of the ADR mechanisms are popular and preferred to litigation are their relative party autonomy which makes parties gain and retain control over the process and the outcome. It is therefore important for the court to ensure that there is no foreseeable factor that may interfere with this autonomy as it may defeat the main purpose of engaging in these processes. One of the constitutional requirements with regard to access to justice in Kenya is that the State should ensure that cost should not impede access to justice and, if any fee is required, the same should be reasonable. It is, therefore, important that even where persons use private means of accessing justice, the cost should be reasonable. This is especially where there was no prior agreement to engage in ADR. Regulation of ADR should also ensure that the outcome of the ADR mechanisms remains flexible, parties can settle on outcomes that satisfactorily address their needs and nothing affects parties’ ability and willingness to participate in such processes.

Obligations of parties to participate in ADR

Compulsory participation in ADR is highly opposed by those in favour of voluntary participation in ADR who argue that conciliation or mediation is essentially a consensual process that requires the co-operation and consent of the parties. On the other hand, those who argue in favour of compulsory participation in ADR respond that if the dispute is removed from the adversarial procedures of the courts and exposed to procedures designed to promote compromise, then even the most fundamental resistance to compromise can turn to co-operation and consent. The element of ‘good faith’ which is usually present in voluntary ADR is not assured in compulsory ADR, leading states and courts to give rules requiring parties to participate in ADR in good faith or ‘in a meaningful manner.’

Courts also sanction parties for violations of a good-faith-participation requirement such as for failing to attend or participate in an ADR process or engaging in a pattern of obstructive, abusive, or dilatory tactics. Sanctions include the shifting of costs and attorney’s fees, contempt, denial of trial de novo, and even dismissal of the lawsuit. Lawmakers should thus have regard to what conduct constitutes good conduct, a system of handling claims of bad faith, maintenance of the confidentiality of the process even as such case of bad faith is before the court and the effects of non-compliance with the good faith participation requirement. The overall goal should be to promote meaningful access to justice for all. For purposes of ensuring justice is done, sometimes courts may force parties to the negotiating table especially where one of the parties refuses to do so with ulterior motive of defeating justice. The third party umpire in collaboration with the court, where necessary, may invent ways of dealing with power imbalances and bad faith for the sake of ensuring justice is achieved.

Standards and Accreditation of ADR practitioners

It has been argued that development of standards of practitioners will ensure much greater accountability of practitioners. Sociologists argue that professionals perform better “on stage” (in public) than they do “off stage” (in private) and this has consequences for issues of integrity in arbitration. It is also argued that documented standards would also provide a source of information to enable consumers to know what to expect of an ADR practitioner, a basis for choosing a particular type of ADR, and an ‘industry norm’ against which to measure the performance of the practitioner. They would also improve the public awareness of ADR. These standards may be provided by either professional groups or by the government.

The standards of conduct of individual professional groups are still the primary source of regulation in most states. Codes of professional conduct tailored to mediation and ADR have been issued by various professional organizations. It is argued that as governments are increasingly legislating to require parties to attend ADR, such as in the litigation context, they need to be accountable for the competence of practitioners performing these services. Legislative instruments that provide for compulsory submission of a dispute to ADR should thus also provide minimum standards of conduct for the practitioners. The provision of standards will also go towards boosting the public’s confidence in ADR, as parties need to have confidence that the quality of the ADR service will meet the standards of professionalism. Knowledge of how the practitioner’s standards are met through training and accreditation, as well as a complaints mechanism will also boost public awareness and public confidence.

Standards may, however, in detailing the structure of ADR, restrain creative ways of solving disputes, and with ADR being applicable in a variety of contexts, standards may not be applicable in all the available contexts. Standards should be formulated with the objective of ensuring a fair ADR process, protecting the consumer, establishing public confidence and building capacity in the field. Issues to consider when setting out the duties and standards of ADR practitioners include: how the practitioner is to be selected, the role of the practitioner, impartiality, conflicts of interest, competence, confidentiality, the quality of the process, the termination of the ADR process, recording settlement, publicity, advertising and fees. It has been suggested that rather than establishing a single body to accredit each mediator individually, a system is required to accredit organisations which in turn accredit mediators.

In order for these organisations to be approved, they would need to develop common standards for initial assessment, as well as ongoing monitoring, review and disciplinary processes for mediator. The downside to this kind of approach would be the risk of locking out those who acquire their skills and expertise outside this jurisdiction as it would not be clear if they would need to compulsorily become members of local organisations for accreditation. For mediation, there is already in place Mediation Accreditation Committee but for the other mechanisms it is not clear how such an approach would be implemented as there exists no body at the moment. This also risks leaving out the informal experts who may be lacking in the required ‘professional’ qualifications to qualify to join such bodies. This requires careful consideration by the concerned stakeholders.

Confidentiality of communications made during ADR and Inadmissibility of Evidence

Confidentiality is central to ADR as it allow parties to freely engage in candid, informal discussions of their interests to reach the best possible settlement of their dispute. The parties to the dispute and the neutral third party have a duty to maintain such confidentiality, with the neutral being held to a higher standard of non-disclosure. The neutral has a duty not to disclose to a third party, as well as not to disclose to the other party what has been told to him by a party in private. The question that law makers should consider is whether confidentiality should be mandated by statute, and what sanctions will be employed when breach occurs. They should also consider the circumstances under which an exception to confidentiality lies. Limitations of confidentiality arise in a variety of instances: by consent of the parties; where mandated by law; where a crime is committed or a threat is made to commit such crime.

Inadmissibility is intertwined with the issue of confidentiality of communications during ADR. This is an approach taken to protect the confidentiality of the ADR process, by statutory provision that evidence of matters in an ADR proceeding is inadmissible in later court proceedings. This issue also includes the compellability of ADR practitioners to give evidence before subsequent court proceedings. The mediation (Pilot Project) Rules, 2015 also recognises the importance of this and provides that all communication during mediation including the mediator’s notes are to be deemed to be confidential and shall not be admissible in evidence in any current or subsequent litigation or proceedings.

Protection of communications in ADR should be guaranteed as this protects the finality of the decision reached by the parties and enhances communication for purposes of resolving conflicts. If parties knew that whatever they share may later be used against them, then they would be unwilling to do so, thus, defeating the essence of engaging in ADR and TDR. One of the selling points of these mechanisms is open communication for purposes of reaching a decision or ensuring that parties are able to craft an agreement through sharing.

Finally, Lawmakers and Policy-makers should recognise the desirability of enabling diversity, flexibility and dynamism in conflict management practices and processes. They should also have in mind that ADR processes cannot be viewed in isolation. Party autonomy allows the parties to craft a hybrid process, linking different techniques and processes to meet their contextual need. They thus need to be viewed in the larger ADR context. In drafting legislation, provision should thus be made for parties to retain as much autonomy as possible.

*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 among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2022.


Constitution of Kenya, 2010,

Civil Procedure Act, Cap 21, Laws of Kenya.

Muigua, K., Resolving Conflicts through Mediation in Kenya. (Glenwood Publishers Ltd, Nairobi, 2012), Chap.2, pp. 20-37.

Muigua, K., “Heralding A New Dawn: Achieving Justice Through Effective Application of Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (ADR) in Kenya”, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Kenya), Alternative Dispute Resolution, Vol. 1, No 1, (2013), pp. 43-78.

Muigua, K., Court Sanctioned Mediation in Kenya-An Appraisal, available at attachments/article/152/Court%20Sanctioned%20Mediation%20in%2 0Kenya-An%20Appraisal-By%20Kariuki%20Muigua.pdf .

Muigua, K., ‘Empowering the Kenyan People through Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms,’ Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Kenya), Alternative Dispute Resolution, Vol. 3, No. 2, (2015), pp. 64-108.

Muigua, K., ‘Effective Justice for Kenyans: is ADR Really Alternative?’ The Law Society of Kenya Journal, Vol. II, 2015, No. 1, pp. 49-62.

Muigua, K., ‘Legitimising Alternative Dispute Resolution in Kenya: Towards a Policy and Legal Framework,’ Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Kenya), Alternative Dispute Resolution, Volume 5, No 1, (2017), pp. 74-104.

News & Analysis

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




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




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




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. 


Muigua, K., “Nurturing International Commercial Arbitration in Kenya,” Available at: (accessed 15 July 2022).

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