The Judiciary plans to set up 100 Small Claims Courts across the country by the end of this year to widen access to justice, Chief Justice, Martha Koome, has said.
Speaking at the Eldoret Law Courts where she officially laid the foundation stone for the Eldoret Law Courts Complex, the CJ said the Judiciary is rolling out the Small Claims Courts to other parts of the country, following a remarkable performance by the Small Claims Courts at Milimani where 2,347 out of 5,080 matters filed at the court were heard and determined within 59 days.
The determined matters accrued over Sh 501 million in value, according to the CJ.
“We are now rolling out the Small Claims Courts and have designated 11 more in other parts of the country, we have already operationalised Kajiado, Thika, and Eldoret where the registry was operationalised on Monday,” she said
“Plans are at an advanced stage to launch the Small Claims Courts in Nakuru, Naivasha, Kisumu, Kakamega, Nyeri, Meru, Mombasa, and Machakos,” She added,
Koome said the Small Claims Courts were a key driver of the Judiciary’s agenda of deepening access to justice through simplifying the procedure, timely disposal of proceedings, fairness of the process, and reasonable court fees.
Operationalisation of the courts, she added, will enhance access to justice by expanding the reach of the formal justice to areas not served by existing court systems as well as to facilitate access to justice for claimants currently unable to access mainstream judicial services for various reasons.
The CJ urged the heads of stations to take the lead in championing the embrace of the courts through the court users committees and Bar-Bench meetings.
Meanwhile, Koome acknowledged that there was a shortage of magistrates at the Eldoret Law courts that only has two judges to serve the entire population leading to a backlog of cases.
Many residents from the county have complained over the dragging of cases which has forced them to incur a lot of expense.
According to the CJ, by the end of the 2nd quarter of the 2021/2022 Financial Year, pending cases at the magistrates’ courts increased by 4 percent from 512,454 the previous Financial Year to 532,369. Out of these 95, 160 have been pending for the last three years.
At the same time, County Governor Jackson Mandago has asked the Judiciary to consider increasing judicial staff to courts to assist in fast-tracking land inheritance matters that are largely the bigger portion of cases pending in the region.
Speaking when he hosted the Chief Justice in his office, the Governor said land succession cases were slowing down the region’s economic growth that is largely pegged on agriculture.
Lands that are not transferred to dependents may slow down agricultural activities, observed Mandago.