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Mediation vital, advises Mambilima

MAMBILIMA

NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
CHIEF Justice Irene Mambilima says mediation should be revitalised to help reduce the backlog of court cases in the judiciary.
Justice Mambilima said this in Lusaka yesterday at the re-launch of the court annexed mediation settlement week.
She said that the court annexed mediation has been a useful tool in reducing the backlog of cases and ensuring speedy dispensation of justice.
She is concerned that this mediation has gone into slumber because the referral rate by the court has not been as high as it should be.
“The process has also been unpopular to most members of the bar who are one of the major stakeholders in the delivery of justice,” Justice Mambilima said.
She said the perception that the legal fraternity holds is that mediation is a process that reduces the high fees that they would ideally earn through litigation.
She said the contrary is what is true because mediation results in high turnover of cases, which means lawyers can bill frequently.
“Our mission as a judiciary does not end here because we intend reaching out to the public by way of public awareness campaigns whose aim is to educate the public on the importance of mediation,” Justice Mambilima said.
She also said the judiciary is in the process of putting in place a code of conduct for mediators to regulate their activities.
“The judiciary is also exploring the possibilities of introducing mediation to the subordinate court,” Justice Mambilima said.
Mediation chairperson Gertrude Chawatama said the judges have referred 300 matters for the settlement week.
Mrs Justice Chawatama said judges have demonstrated ownership of the process and urged other stakeholders such as the Law Association of Zambia, the office of the Attorney General and litigants to do so.
“What we hope to see come out of this settlement week will be to see a large number of cases settled, fully or partially. in some cases we hope to see issues narrowed down,” she said.
The settlement week, which started yesterday, will end on September 4 this year, and 22 mediators, who include Minister of Justice Ngosa Simbyakula, have been appointed.

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