Advancing the Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Zambia

Just over 21 years ago, I left Lusaka, Zambia to pursue a university education in Australia. What followed has been an extremely rewarding journey of personal and professional development, which has provided me with a solid grounding in the effective use and application of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms.

That said, I have long wondered whether there was more I could be doing to raise awareness about how ADR mechanisms, which include mediation and arbitration, can be an effective means of resolving commercial disputes arising out of Africa-related transactions and projects.

The promotion of ADR mechanisms is more than just a personal crusade. There are many others who share my conviction that wide-spread adoption of these mechanisms could be integral to the achievement of economic development across the African continent.[1] At the heart of Africa’s development potential are the continent’s youth who continue to take an active role in shaping Africa’s future,[2] and who will require an early introduction to the use, application and benefits of ADR mechanisms. Africa’s next generation of lawyers should be equipped with the skills and know-how to advise on the effective use of ADR mechanisms to suit their clients’ commercial and strategic objectives. It is essential that they be provided with access to relevant information about ADR, as well as exposure to experienced ADR practitioners.

I was therefore quite pleased, during a recent visit to Zambia, to be able to participate in a capacity building program facilitated by New Perimeter at the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE). ZIALE was established in 1996 with the objective of providing a broad range of post-graduate legal studies, including the flagship Legal Practitioners’ Qualifying Examination (LPQE) Course meant for university law graduates wishing to be admitted to the Zambian Bar. DLA Piper and GE have been working together since 2016 to offer a week-long capacity building program at ZIALE with the objective of providing the next generation of Zambian lawyers with legal drafting skills and practical drafting techniques.

This year’s program was offered online between 25 June 2023 and 30 June 2023 to approximately 500 students. During the program, the students had the opportunity to listen to pre-recorded presentations and participate in live practical exercises covering a diverse range of topics, including effective writing, negotiations, joint ventures, and dispute resolution clauses.

I was among a diverse cast of 8 DLA Piper and GE lawyers that facilitated the penultimate day of the program, during which students were introduced to various ADR mechanisms, the key elements of arbitration agreements and related drafting considerations. The students also had the opportunity to engage in an interactive practical exercise involving the negotiation of a dispute resolution clause between teams representing a hypothetical state and an international equipment supplier.

In addition to the opportunity to collaborate and share notes with colleagues from across the DLA Piper network and GE, this exercise also allowed me to take stock of my ADR experience and relay useful anecdotes and tips to the students as they prepared to negotiate the best dispute resolution clause for their hypothetical clients.

This exercise was as much a learning opportunity for me as it was for the students, particularly as it called for trainers to strike a balance between presenting their subject matter know-how and facilitating an interactive discussion with and between the students. While we did have some initial challenges with student interaction, it was positive to note that the students did eventually come out of their shells as the sessions progressed, culminating in some very lively and enthusiastic negotiations amongst the students. I was especially pleased to hear the students report back on negotiation outcomes that reflected an understanding of the basic fundamentals relating to ADR mechanisms.

Special thanks to the New Perimeter team for facilitating this opportunity, and for all of the support rendered to all of the trainers as we delivered the program.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience with the New Perimeter Pro Bono Initiative, and I look forward to further opportunities to help develop the next generation of African lawyers.


[1] Oluwaseun Oloruntimehin, Creating A Fertile Ground For The Advancement Of Different Forms Of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, Paper presented at the AfAA 3rd Annual International Arbitration Conference, 3rd - 5th November 2022 ( )

[2] Hicham El Habti, Why Africa's youth hold the key to its development potential, 19 September 2022 ( )

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