NCIA management pays a Courtesy Call to the Solicitor General of Kenya
March 20, 2024
NCIA collaborates with LSK to sensitize members on the National ADR Policy
March 20, 2024

UK Bar Council pays a courtesy call to NCIA

 

The UK Bar Council led by Ms. Barbara Mills, the Vice Chair-Elect of the Bar Council, recently paid a courtesy call to the Centre. Also present during the visit was Mr. Phillip Robertson, the Director of Policy, Hammad Baig a tax barrister in the UK. To receive them were the Chairperson of the NCIA Board of Directors Ms. Jacqueline Oyuyo and the Centre Registrar Mr. Lawrence Muiruri. Mr. Muiruri, while making his welcome remarks, informed the visitors that the Centre was an arbitration institution that uses familiar methods namely arbitration, mediation and with plans to roll out adjudication in the not-too-distant future. He informed the visitors that the Centre was established in 2013 with arbitration and mediation services commencing in 2015 adding that since inception, the Centre had administered disputes valued at US$ 234 Million. ‘The majority of the disputes have been domestic but since 2020, the Centre has witnessed growth in the uptake of international cases from Poland, Hongkong, Poland, Rwanda, and South Africa. ’The sectors covered include financial, technical, construction, employment, and emerging areas including mining.’ he added. He noted that the Centre has a secretariat that manages case management, business development, capacity building, and training in arbitration and mediation. ‘This is done within Kenya and the East African region. The Centre also oversees a regional investment moot that brings together twenty-five universities in the region’ he added. The Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration has also been involved in policy development with the national ADR policy being passed at the cabinet level. The policy will harmonize the practice of ADR in all sectors of Kenya and inform changes in the arbitration law. The Registrar added that the Centre also offers facilities that include hearings and hosting of ad hoc arbitration.

Nairobi Arbitration Week 2023

The Registrar informed the team that the Centre hosted the Nairobi Arbitration Week in September 2023 whose objective was to nurture the culture of international arbitration and to grow capacity locally and regionally. ‘‘The Nairobi Arbitration Week 2024 will be structured in such a manner to enable law firms to host events. NAW 2023 had a broad theme which was broken down into subtopics such as ESG and Third-Party Funding upon which panels were formed and arrangements made on when the sessions would be held’ noted the Registrar. There was an all-participants day on the last day of the week during which an Oxford-style debate was held followed by a question-and-answer session with the week culminating in the gala dinner. ‘‘The plan for 2024 is to extend the offer to sectors such as telecommunication companies that deal with disputes related to the sector’ he added. He informed the team that the Centre had been acknowledged as the Arbitral Institution of the Year 2022 and as the leading Arbitration Service Provider by the Africa Arbitration Association (AfAA) in recognition of its effort to deepen the use of ADR in dispute resolution.

He further noted that the Centre commenced the implementation of the 2022-2027 strategic plan driven by 3 pillars namely digitization and automation of services, organizational capacity development, and promotion of ADR services. ‘‘Article 159 2(c) of the constitution charges the judiciary to promote Alternative Dispute Resolution during its delivery of services. This includes mediation, arbitration, adjudication, and other forms including traditional methods of dispute resolution’’ Noted Mr. Muiruri. ‘‘The Centre launched mediation and arbitration training services in 2021 and in the two years, the Centre has trained 500 mediators and about 40 arbitrators in different modules. There is sector specific training such as the public sector lawyers training in investment arbitration, in-house council training, and layering skills in ADR’ he added. He concluded by noting that the Centre had a wide range of trainers in different jurisdictions and accredits practitioners responsible for training the Centre’s curriculum.

About the UK Bar Council.

The UK Bar Council is an independent Bar of England and Wales with more than 17,000 members that plays a crucial role in upholding the principles of government accountability under law and vindication of legal rights through the courts. As specialists and independent advocates, barristers enable people to uphold their legal rights, often acting on behalf of the most vulnerable members of society. The Bar makes a vital contribution to the efficient and effective operation of criminal and civil courts and provides a pool of talent, from increasingly diverse backgrounds, from which a significant proportion of the judiciary is drawn, and on whose independence the rule of law democracy is anchored.

In his remarks, Mr. Philip Robertson, Policy Director at the Bar Council observed that there were opportunities for collaboration with the Centre, especially in the realm of private dispute resolution. ‘What I see as an opportunity is the strength of the bar in England to provide training and emerging issues in other jurisdictions. Bar association members can be invited to speak during the Nairobi Arbitration Week 2024, partner with LSK and EALS, and participate in panel discussions during the arbitration week’. He noted that there was an opportunity for members of the bar to seek accreditation as mediators and arbitrators at the Centre with the Registrar advising that there were no special requirements for foreign practitioners who require accreditation ‘‘The requirement revolves around academic, training, and experience of applicants.’’ He noted adding that the accreditation process was continuous and invited bar members to submit their accreditation applications to the Centre advising that empanelment will give visibility to practitioners with the NCIA Board chairperson emphasizing the high bar set for accreditation including the requirement for one to be a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators-UK.

Areas of Collaboration with the UK Bar The Registrar informed the visitors that the Centre has been collaborating with the Law Society of Kenya and the East Africa Law Society, noting that the societies are critical stakeholders being the main consumers of any bill passed on any service that their members render. ‘It is important to get buy-in from members of the legal profession as the Centre cannot be able to render services without involving their views. This includes buy-in of ADR as a viable business option NCIA and the UK Bar Council members pose for a group photo after the meeting and setting of fees’ noted Mr. Muiruri. ‘‘There is an opportunity for the Centre to interact with the UK Bar Council to address the emerging regional business opportunities’ he added. Mr. Robertson noted that the bar council can work alongside the Centre to increase the uptake and buy-in of the training services offered by the Centre. ‘‘The bar council represents barristers who are trained in dispute resolution, after which they join the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators where they are trained in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms’ he added.

The Chairperson of the Board noted that the Centre holds webinars with panels constituted from across the globe. ‘‘Members of the bar association can be resources in the webinars to provide an understanding of the topics under discussion from a global perspective. They can also publish articles in the NCIA journal that is published annually’’ noted Ms. Oyuyo. Ms. Brabara Mills observed that members of the English bar can appear as mediators or arbitrators in the region. There is an opportunity to make Nairobi an arbitral seat and integrate the skills and knowledge of the English bar with local skills, added Mr. Hammad Baig. The Registrar concluded by noting that another area of collaboration would be the training of judicial officers including judges noting that that there is a preference for peer training through cross-jurisdictional learning and knowledge sharing. The Registrar thanked the members of the UK Bar Council for visiting the Centre, adding that the conversation should continue to increase the uptake of ADR services across jurisdictions.