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 A dispute, in a relationship, is a comma, not a full stop

 

Covid-19 has taken a toll on all aspects of life.  Among the unforeseen disruptions are disputes that are now becoming wounds oozing turmoil and disarray in the lives of many businesses and families.  On Thursday May 14th, Strathmore University engaged a virtual crowd from various backgrounds to speak on the importance of mediation in dispute resolution.

Meet the panelists

Among the extinguished guest were Hon. Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch  EBS, CBS, Retired and First Vice-President of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, in Netherlands;  Sofia Nyambura Getambu, CEO, East African Online Transport Agency Ltd –EAOTA; and Dr. Edward Mungai  Deputy Vice Chancellor, Planning and Development and  board member of the Strathmore Dispute Resolution Centre (SDRC). The event was moderated by Jacqueline Oyuyo Githinji, Managing Partner, Umsizi LLP a firm of Advocates, Arbitrators, Mediators and Corporate Secretaries.

Win-win situation

Mediation is the action of intervening on behalf of another or intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it. In return, it offers possible options and solution to many as they gradually seek serenity to the challenges at hand. Though voluntary, mediation provides a win-win situation for all parties involved and, as a result, restores relationships between business partners and even families. Citing an example, Ms. Getambu mentioned that mediation was able to save her family business, maintain family relationships and engage parties. It allowed the underlying issues to be addressed authentically while renewing business drive with focus on positive change. At the end every member was satisfied as the matter was handled in confidentiality, the costs were minimal and most importantly the family relationship was kept intact.

Better means of settling disputes

Mediators can be of legal or non-legal background.  However, wide mediation experience and skills are vital for inclusive conclusions. This is crucial because their role is to open up a conversation with parties in order to seek mutual agreements. They give the underdog a voice to air their predicaments without the fear of being taken advantage of by the other.  With different emotions flaring in the conversation the mediator helps the parties to have empathy for the other. With a positive environment the parties not only save time but also money. Though some cases may be untenable the presence of a mediator to guide the process brings acceptance and calms fears of the unknown.

The future of mediation

The courts of this country should not be the place where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried. It is important to note that not all disputes are suited for mediation. However, a great number can be resolved this way. For example, Lady Justice Aluoch, within a day, mediated a case that had been in court for 7 years. With the pandemic still ongoing, SDRC is offering online mediation for those in need. Why allow cases to linger for years while they can be settled in days? As Dr. Mungai concluded, let us make disputes a comma, not a full stop to a relationship. You never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.

 

The article was compiled by Annete Karanja.

Would you like to share your experience of living through the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu

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