By Terry Otieno
The World seems to have been turned upside down, with the outbreak of the novel Corona Virus Pandemic. Systems have shut down, production has almost ground to a halt and movement is being controlled in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Governments, organizations as well as individuals have had to change the way they do things. The ‘Online’ craze has caught on as a matter of urgency in order to try and continue to operate.
Amidst these changing times, disputes are bound to be on the rise with contracts falling behind and parties being unable to meet their obligations as per the set timelines.
Given the current situation, Courts in Kenya have had to change their operations and try to adopt to a new way of operation via the online space. Fine tuning of this process will take some time and may prove to be time consuming for parties who would like to resolve their issues in a timely fashion.
Mediation could prove to be the most reliable form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in such times. Mediation is a form of ADR that allows parties in a conflict to communicate in the presence of a non-partisan mediator whose role is to encourage the parties to communicate their grievances while following the set ground rules and come up with solutions to those issues that suits both parties. The goal in mediation is to have the parties remain amicable during and after the process is done.
The beauty of mediation, especially in these times when social distancing is highly encouraged, is that the parties can set to have their Mediation carried out online via the several video communication applications that are available for use such as Zoom, Google Meet, Vidyo and Gumzo. The parties can arrange to have more than one meeting in order to allow them time to consult or ponder over the issues and what matters most to them. The fact that each party shall be at their location of choice, also allows the parties to be comfortable during the mediation process.
The agreements arrived at during mediation can be adopted as court decisions therefore giving the parties comfort that each part shall meet their obligations as agreed during mediation. Other than conflicts arising from contracts, management and or boards of companies can utilize this form of ADR to resolve disagreements that will arise in this season.
In a season such as this, where people and corporates have had their norms disrupted, with the future being uncertain, mediation in its nature of being non-abrasive with a view to having a win-win situation may be what we all need.