Arbitrator sought in Airtel versus dealers row

An institute has been requested to appoint an arbitrator to resolve a contractual dispute between Airtel Kenya and over 20 of its distributors.

The parties were supposed to appoint an arbitrator but they failed to settle on one, prompting the court to approach the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Justice Mbogholi Msagha Thursday extended orders stopping Airtel from implementing changes in a contract between the parties, until the court gets feedback from the institute.

The distributors, led by Viking Communications, have accused Airtel of amending their contracts on March 24, effectively changing their payment structures.

Their contracts provide that disputes be determined through arbitration. The 23 distributors now want the new structure revoked.

“The notice failed to consider the economic effect it will cause on many who have borrowed loans from banks,” they said.

Upon getting the proposed changes, which were to take effect on May 1, the distributors protested but there was no response from Airtel.

The case will be mentioned on August 5.