Lawyers, courts take blame for delays in handling cases

Chief justice David Maraga

The Judiciary is still grappling with a backlog of cases due to consistent adjournments.

A report released yesterday by Chief Justice David Maraga reveals that 60 per cent of cases are not heard and determined within a year.

The stand-out reason is that either a lawyer or the court seek adjournment, and this is most prevalent in the civil and family divisions of the court.

“It was noted that most civil and succession matters took more than 360 days to be finalised due to delays occasioned by other agencies in the justice chain. This was a major factor impeding the ability of courts to achieve the set timelines,” the report detailing the Judiciary’s score card reads in part.

The report is not all gloom as judges, magistrates and Kadhis have devised innovative ways to reduce the cases backlog by eight per cent. The report also details happy court users, as they gave the Judiciary a 64 per cent satisfaction score.

The period under review covered the 2016-17 financial year, with the Supreme Court and the Environment and Lands Division registering double digit backlog clearance.

The Supreme Court had 59 per cent approval rating followed by Environment and Lands Court (31 per cent), Magistrates’ Courts (9 per cent), Kadhi’s Courts (8 per cent), Court of Appeal (7 per cent) and High Court (6 per cent).

Dramatic improvement

The total number of resolved cases increased from 272,605 in 2014-15 to 304,182 cases in 2016-17. Over the same period, case clearance rate increased from 76 per cent to 88 per cent.

“I am happy that during the period under review, there was a dramati cimprovement in the performance of our courts, “ said Justice Maraga.

Some devised ways of reducing backlogs. The Kandara Law Courts adopted a Google calendar to synchronise case diary with advocates and magistrates’ phones and computers.

The Nakuru Magistrates Court used a video link to enable a victim to testify remotely while the Kabarnet Law Court created a case management system which would send SMS, and help in inquiries about cases.

And in Karatina, the court developed a software which helped track cases, give warnings on when they are re-arranged and gave automatic reports. The Court of Appeal in Malindi, where Justices Alnasir Visram, Martha Koome and Wanjiru Karanja sit beat other Appellate Courts with 62 per cent clearance of case backlog.

Labour disputes

Kericho High Court headed by Justice Mumbi Ngugi scooped the best performing court with a case load of 200 cases and below. Machakos emerged the best court hearing more than 500 cases. It was headed by Justice Pauline Nyamweya.

The Nakuru Employment and Labour Relations Court headed by Justice Stephen Radido was the best in determining labour disputes, with 100 per cent determination.

Justice John Mutungi led Kisii Environment Court to emerge the best by clearing at least 173 per cent of land disputes within a year.

Mpeketioni, Wajir, Kangema, Embu, Makadara and Tononoka scooped various awards under the magistrates courts while Murang’a, Tabaka and Lamu emerged the best among the Kadhi’s courts.