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Judiciary goes digital in case filing, payment to ease work

NAIROBI
By Moses Nyamori | March 24th 2020

The Judiciary has fully automated its operations in a shift set to improve efficiency as well as stop revenue leakage.

Lawyers and other litigants will now be required to file and track their cases in courts across the country electronically. Payments for court services have also been automated in the new directive.

Chief Justice David Maraga in Gazette Notice No 2357, said the shift from manual to digital system is aimed at speeding up resolution of court cases.

The country’s courts have been experiencing huge case backlog blamed on the manual system that, in some instances, has seen court files go missing thus stalling progress of cases.

The Judiciary has also suffered revenue leakage that forced it to gradually move to digital payment system to prevent further loss of funds collected from court users.

“In every judicial proceeding, the court and the parties to the case shall employ the use of technology to expedite the proceedings and make them more efficient,” states the notice.

“The objectives of these Practice Directions are to guide the integration of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in judicial proceedings and in particular to provide for electronic filing and electronic service of court documents,” added the notice.

The new system will also be used for electronic case search, electronic diary, electronic case tracking system and electronic payment and receipting.

Judges and magistrates will also begin to electronically transmit copies of their ruling, judgment, directions orders or other court document using the new digital system.

The notice directed that that all cases being filed after coming into force of the directive shall be filed electronically.

However, cases that have been pending prior to this directive will not be subjected to the new requirement of transacting digitally in the corridors of justice.

“A case pending prior to the coming into force of these Practice Directions is not subject to the requirements of these Practice Directions,” explained the notice.

Court users are, however, free to apply to the court to convert a case under manual system to an electronic case.

Judges will, however, still have a leeway to allow a case to be transacted manually in an instance where a court cannot access any form of electronic media.

A presiding judge or judicial officer may approve the use of an alternative technology, approve manual filing of any document or oral application in a form approved by the Chief Registrar.

The courts will also be allowed to exempt use of digital system for users who lack regular access to the internet or any other legitimate reason preventing a person from filing digitally.

Accused person in a criminal case, a person in custody and a parent or guardian of a minor who is a party in a juvenile case will also be exempted from filing digitally. The notice states that lawyers and any other party in a case will be required to register electronically before filing a case or entering appearance.

“Registration includes a request for and consent to electronic service of court-generated documents and documents filed by other parties in cases where the registered person is a party or advocate,” states the gazette notice.

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