Mary Mutupa ACIArb

Why have you decided to specialise in ADR? What attracted you to this area of law?

I decided to specialize in Arbitration and Mediation because of my passion to see people access justice in a timely manner as ADR mechanisms such as Mediation, Arbitration, and adjudication among others, as this offers alternatives to litigation which tends to be a lengthy process and costly. I also like the fact that Mediation for instance seeks to restore relationships of disputants as the process is a win-win process.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in your career as a female practitioner in arbitration/ mediation?

The ADR community is somewhat a closed up movement. The closed up space coupled with lack of proper mentorship programmes to empower young practitioners’ means that young people are overlooked when appointments are made. In my case, I have purposed to claim my space within the ADR movement whose space for young practitioners is somehow closed. Further, I’m working out strategies to market my Mediation and Arbitration services in order to maximize on appointment opportunities. I’m so glad that CIArb Zambia has taken on the challenge to mentor young practitioners by way of requesting every one they appoint to carry on a trainee arbitrator to observe the arbitration process. It should be noted that Zambia has no specific legislation backing the procedure and practice of Commercial Mediation and Adjudication hence, limiting the use of these two ADR mechanisms and making it difficult to maximize the practice of Commercial Mediation and Adjudication.

Are there any interesting developments in the field of ADR in the jurisdiction you are based in?

New amendments to Mediation Rules –as relates to Court Annexed Mediation

- Court Annexed mediation has been introduced in the Subordinate Courts which has not been the case in the past.

- Parties to a Mediation can now choose a mediator from a list of accredited mediators. In the instance that parties fail to agree on one Mediator then the Court through the mediation office can appoint a mediator for them. Allowing parties to appoint their own choice of Mediator , enhances part autonomy.

- At scheduling conference in the High Court or Subordinate Court before a matter is set down for trial actions amenable to mediation are referred to mediation.

- Interlocutory matters as related to matrimonial causes such as –maintenance of spouse and children, property settlement, custody applications among others can now be mediated on.

Generally, Judiciary has taken on deliberate measures to promote the use of ADR.

What is it like to work in a predominantly male profession such as ADR?

Yes, ADR is dominated by males and mostly old practitioners who somewhat have protected spaces and as such get most of the appointments which disadvantages young practitioners like myself who are trying to  get established in the field. Being young and later on female is a challenge that is hard to deal with. There is need to take  deliberate measures such as provide proper mentorship to young ones to ensure that they grasp the skills needed to enable us stand on our own and be able to handle processes.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the field thus far?

My biggest achievement thus far is being able to get trained in both Mediation and Arbitration. I sat for my exams last November for upgrading my membership level from Associate to Member, awaiting for results, hope I make it. Having accredited as a Court Annexed Mediator in 2016 and been practicing since then and I have settled about 85% of all matters that I have mediated. It’s fulfilling to settle a matter. Of course some matters are complex and as such, I have learnt that, it’s important to take time to prepare for one’s mediation sessions in order to understand the complexity of each matter and pay particular attention during the session as parties present their cases so that the point causing the dispute is identified. Lastly, having been appointed as a regional YMG Ambassador in 2018 was another achievement worthy recognizing.

Tell us about your interests, hobbies or any out of work activities.

My interests include flowers and vegetables. I spend my spare time, growing vegetables in my little backyard as  I’m very big on eating health. I have collected over 80 pots of flowers. I also like exercising and hence I do gym a lot.