CJ Koome sets three-year limit for court cases, suggests no adjournment policy

To resolve the issue of backlog, Chief Justice Martha Koome has announced a new directive for the magistrates’ and Kadhis’ courts that limits the court cases to three years.

Speaking at the second Annual Magistrates and Kadhis Colloquium in Sawela Lodge in Naivasha, the Chief Justice acknowledged the role these courts play in handling over 85 percent of the judiciary backlog but emphasized the need for streamlining processes and changing the culture among litigants and lawyers.

According to the Judiciary and Administration of Justice (SOJAR) Annual Report FY 2021/22, 404,312 cases were filed in the Judiciary, with a case clearance rate of 94 percent. However, 678,697 cases were pending before the courts at the end of the financial year.

The Chief Justice attributed the case backlog and delayed justice to the perennial adjournment over petty issues and urged the courts to adopt a “no adjournment policy.”

“I urge courts to move towards limiting the time taken in interlocutory applications and nudge parties towards moving directly to the hearing of suits on their merits,” said Koome.

She also highlighted the importance of prioritizing old cases and added that over three-year-old matters should be mentioned before judicial officers for parties to take directions.

The Chief Justice promised to continuously engage with the Judicial Service Commission to increase the number of magistrates and Kadhis to an optimal staffing level.

“If we get it right regarding service delivery at these courts, then we will resolve the backlog problem, improve litigants’ customer experience and facilitate access to justice,” said Koome.

The report pointed out that it requires a human resource of 9,417 people to operate optimally, compared to the 6,182 currently employed.

The Chief Justice’s directive for the courts to resolve cases within three years is a step towards improving the administration of justice and reducing the backlog of pending cases.



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