What is mediation?

Mediation is often called ‘facilitated negotiation’. Mediation is a method of resolving disputes between parties where a neutral third
party, the mediator, will guide discussions and facilitate the parties to reach a mutually agreed resolution of the dispute.

The mediator does not determine the outcome, it is ONLY the parties.

The goal of mediation is to help the parties arrive at an informed decision, most often, in the form of a resolution or settlement of whatever issues or disagreement has arisen.

The mediator is neutral and does not take sides throughout the process. The mediator is ONLY there to help the parties arrive at an informed decision.

Mediation has been part of Uganda’s legal process since 1995. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,1995 (as amended) under Article
126(2) provides that in the adjudication of cases of both a civil and criminal nature, the courts shall, subject to the law, apply the following principles:

(a) Justice shall be done to all irrespective of their special economic status;
(b) Justice shall not be delayed;
(c) adequate compensation shall be awarded to victims of wrongs;

(d) reconciliation between parties shall be promoted;
(e) substantive justice shall be administered without undue regard to technicalities;

Article 126(2) of the Constitution clearly reflects the characteristics of mediation. Mediation seeks to expeditiously provide justice to all regardless of their economic status; it seeks to promote reconciliation between parties; dispense with technicalities in delivering justice; and limit delays in the accessing justice.

Mediation is also provided for in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) SI 71-1 (Order XII provides for alternative dispute resolution). Order 12(2)(1) of the CPR provides that where parties do not reach an agreement during their scheduling conference, and if court views that the case has a good potential for settlement, court can order that the case is resolved through alternative dispute resolution.

Order 12(2) (3) CPR further provides that the Chief Justice may issue directions for better carrying into effect of alternative dispute resolution. These rules have since been issued and mediation started operating in one of the specialized courts – the Commercial Court.

Mediation was piloted in the Commercial Court in 2003 and has since remained a prominent feature in the resolution of commercial disputes. Later, mediation was made a permanent process of the court by the enactment of the Judicature (Commercial Court Division) (Mediation) Rules of 2007. This made Court Annexed mediation a compulsory and permanent process of the Court (the Commercial Court).

Most recently, in 2013, the Judicature (Mediation) Rules of 2013 were developed and extended mediation beyond the Commercial Court to all other Courts of Judicature including the Family Division, Land Division and Civil Division.

Under this Project, the implementation of the Mediation Rules extends to the other JLOS institutions with a dispute resolution mandate including: the Judicial Service Commission which handles disciplinary issues relating to judicial officers;Uganda Law Society which has a legal Aid Clinic; Administrator General’s Office which handles estates of deceased persons; Uganda Law Council that prosecutes errant Advocates (Advocates who mismanage client’s cases); Directorate of Civil Litigation that represents Government in Court; and the Uganda Human Rights Commission.