Eunice Lumallas FCIArb is a dispute resolution practitioner, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and trial lawyer, and acts both as an arbitrator and party representative in domestic and international arbitrations. She holds a Master’s degree in Public International Law and is a certified tutor and trainer in alternative dispute resolution. Eunice is a partner in the law practice of Lumallas Achieng' and Kavere (LAK Attorneys), headquartered in Nairobi and practices in East Africa. She has spearheaded the creation of the Women in Alternative Dispute Resolution and is an affiliate of the CIArb Kenya Branch with an outlook of bringing together African women in arbitration into a network that will enhance their skills, provide mentors and enhance their visibility and practices in ADR.
Why have you decided to specialise in arbitration and adjudication? Tell us about your legal journey to ADR.
Because it feels and comes naturally to me, I enjoy Arbitration and Adjudication. In my legal practice formative years, I worked under the former Attorney General of Kenya, Professor Githu Muigai FCIArb, a leading lawyer and arbitrator who once placed a huge file before me. It was an international arbitration case Involving Tanzania, he asked me to prepare for the first preliminary meeting and propose an agenda; I had no idea what that was, but this started me on a great adventurous journey of discovery, starting soon after with my introduction course the same year, over fourteen years ago!
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the field thus far?
Bringing together women from all sectors into the women in Alternative Dispute Resolution in 2020, I believe this move has great potential to impact the journey of women in ADR in Africa.
How has a membership with the CIArb benefitted your career?
The training and courses together with published materials by CIArb are a gem! Being a tutor of arbitration has also greatly enriched my learning by keeping me constantly reading and improving on my knowledge skills and networks.
Are there any interesting developments in ADR in the jurisdiction where you are based?
Africa and in particular Kenya is bursting with ADR bubbles, we have the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration together with the Kigali Centre for International Arbitration which has done great justice in enabling east Africans to learn and practice International Arbitration. We also have advancements in ADR Legislation in Kenya and a developing ADR policy for the nation. Finally, the conclusion of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement which embraces ADR is likely to open up more space for knowledge growth and practice of international arbitration in Africa. This is much needed for young practitioners who would otherwise only dream of exposure in the area.
Would you encourage a young legal professional to develop skills in the ADR field? What advice would you have for them?
My advice would be COMMITMENT in one word to the process and to the journey to the top. Put in the time and do not be afraid to fail, if it is exams, re-sit them, seek out work, and get the skills and qualifications which will make you be unstoppable. Be in the right company of those more skilled than you and make the world know you exist, by writing, speaking, and meeting.
Tell us a short war story from your arbitration experience.
I am 7 years only into the practice of Law, I am appointed arbitrator, the Arbitration clause is clear that an arbitrator must be a lawyer of over 20 years’ experience! Thank goodness the appointing authority did not see this and the parties after I brought it to their attention, granted me jurisdiction. Later, there was an interim order I issued that led to the respondent applying to court to have me removed for being biased, I proceeded the matter not withstanding and issued an award which was actually balanced in the sense that the facts and law led to a determination in favour of the respondent. To date I have no idea what happened in the court case, that was nearly 10 years back. When I met one of the old counsels who had been giving great trouble in the matter, he offered me a free hug and let me know that he was impressed by how I handled the arbitration case.
If you could be a film/book character for one day who would it be and why?
Esther, biblical Queen Esther. I definitely would be no match to her beauty, but the faith, I have bag loads of faith and secondly, the drive to serve others. She had great conviction that her action of communal fast would enable her to stand before the king and the outcome she sought to get. In the end, her faith and great conviction saved the day and her people!