Madeline Kimei MCIArb

Madeline is a practicing commercial and corporate lawyer and the Founder & Principal Director of iResolve a full – pledged arbitration practice established in 2014. She mainly provides arbitration/ADR consultancies, represents parties in domestic commercial arbitration and or acts as arbitrator, commercial mediator and arbitral secretary in both domestic & international arbitrations under the TIArb, UNCITRAL, CRCICA and ICC Rules and also acts as an arbitral secretary in complex arbitrations.

She serves on the panel of arbitrators of SADC, NCC, TIArb, SHIAC and CAJAC.

She is currently the President-Tanzania Institute of Arbitrators (TIArb), Chairperson -Africa Asia Mediation Association, Regional Director - Centre for International Alternative Dispute Resolution (CIADr), and a member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration and the LACIAC Court of Arbitration. She is a member of the ICC Africa Commission, the ICC Commission on Arbitration & ADR; a member of the IBA Africa Arbitration Network and SIAC Africa User’s Council. She is a Fellow of the World Mediation Organization (WMO) and Representative of ADR Point (Greece) for Tanzania.

Madeline often offers tailored trainings to the judiciary on arbitration matters and delivered various courses to various institutions including under the ILI Washington on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). In September 2021, she obtained a Certificate in International Commercial and Investor-State Mediation from International Law Institute – Washington in cooperation with Georgetown University.

Ms. Kimei was awarded the 2019 Top 50 Women in Management Award (Tanzania); finalist for the Innovation in Arbitration, Africa Arbitration Awards (EAIAC-2019) and an awardee of the Top 50 Most Promising Young Arbitration Practitioner’s Award 2020 winning a mentorship program with Stephenson Harwood-UK.

1. Why have you decided to specialise in ADR?

ADR was a niche at the time I started my career in 2010 in Tanzania. Despite its existence in our laws, its application was nil in practice. After having had the experience of managing legal and governance risks at the banking and financial institutions I worked for during my early employment, I developed an appreciation and a passion for resolving business disputes using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms as opposed to the traditional adversarial courts. At one of those institutions, we had pending litigation matters for over 15 years. The lesson learnt was that most of these litigations were amenable for settlement because they were simply monetary claims, requiring concessions from both parties.

In Tanzania, many lawyers have litigated cases but are unfamiliar with the principals involved in the ADR arenas. The knowledge gap in the area within our fraternity and business community at large is what drove me to establish the practice. Fast forward 2021, the new Arbitration regime is now in place and it’s exciting for me to know that I have played a pivotal part in advancing a field I am so fond of.

2. What are the challenges women in ADR face in the early stages of their career?

A smooth sea never made a successful sailor. In my experience, the main obstacle was breaking through the norm. There was lack of data, transparency and negative attitude in terms of knowledge sharing within the arbitration community. There was no easy access, one had to take several no’s and shut doors to achieve any progress, especially as a young lady with a soft demeanor. I was not taken seriously. There was also a strongly established group of arbitrators, predominantly male, locking out new entrants. The situation forced me to think of alternative means to get myself to the table. So I started by publishing a paper in the Law Society journal on mediating banking disputes. Then in 2014, I established a specialized ADR practice. I facilitated masterclasses in mediation and created a network for ADR training within the country. Thereafter, I saw the need for legal transcriptionist and arbitral secretaries and started to offer these services, landing the first ICC case for transcription assignment. That experience and knowledge opened many more doors for me. 

3. What keeps you motivated in your career?

I am what you call a T-shaped lawyer as my practice encourages the implementation of new technology and programmes supporting an increasingly digital and tech-driven environment. The ever-changing space of ADR and the practical innovations that stem out from a career in ADR are what motivate me the most.

I also find by wearing various professional hats, I have the advantage of seeing the process from the perspective of adjudicator as well as a lawyer, and this makes me a more effective advocate for my clients. I followed my instincts and opted for commercial mediation and arbitration. I am absolutely delighted that I did because I managed to ride the wave of arbitration to other sectors, different clients and into new regions, with current cases spanning from India to Egypt either as Counsel or as Arbitrator. I encounter an array of disputes spanning from mining, supply contracts to construction related disputes that make the field more attractive and keep me motivated. There can never be a dull day in the day of an ADR practitioner!

4. What does breaking the bias mean to you?

I believe breaking the bias is continuously greasing the “revolving door” through sharing raw stories genuinely so we can achieve more collective understanding and acceptance in our societies. By breaking the bias, we can achieve greater economic empowerment and build more stable, open societies for the future generations.

5. How has CIArb influenced your career?

The trusted CIArb trademark has always been the anchor to my career growth. I have been able to present myself for opportunities relying on the membership I maintain with CIArb and the training I have undertaken. I have had the privilege also to be involved in surveys, ADR world tours and webinars which have increased my network of like-minded professionals within CIArb through its branches in Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria. I aspire to soon apply for fellowship and further grow with the institution by contributing my expertise from my jurisdiction.

6. If you could practice ADR in any other country, which would you choose and why?

Singapore, because of the rapid uptake, advancements, evolution, and transformation of the ADR framework and practice. This is evidenced in the decisions I have come across from their judiciary. It being a common law jurisdiction reflects to an extent the UK regime and practices similarly as in Tanzania.

The views expressed by the interviewees are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions of CIArb and of the individuals or organisations associated with the initiative.