CJ Marth Koome wants courts to open up to 9pm to clear cases

Chief Justice Martha Koome. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Courts across the country will soon start to operate up to 9pm if a proposal by Chief Justice Martha Koome is adopted.

The CJ said the Judiciary and courts will have to undergo a radical change, which includes extending the time they are open, to deal with the backlog of cases.

Speaking during the second annual symposium for tribunals in Mombasa, the CJ said the courts should come up with innovative ways to deal with delayed cases.

“We hope to see innovations in courts, including the Commercial Courts and the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Courts adopting “night court” shifts and courts sitting up to 9pm,” she said.

The CJ said this will lead to improved performance and ensure cases are resolved in real-time.

Koome said the Supreme Court must be the pacesetter in adopting the proposed change.

“We in the Supreme Court must clear our own backlog of cases,” she said.

The CJ said the Judiciary has been viewed as an institute characterised by delays despite being short of the capacity required to render services. She said there was a huge gap with only 400 magistrates across the country compared to 1,300 prosecution counsel.

Address gap

“We have to address the gap before we start saying the Judiciary is inefficient,” said Koome.

The CJ said she looks forward to opening more small claims courts in the low-income areas to reduce the distance litigants travel to access services, especially in the cities.

She said the ICT department will soon be assisting litigants to file their grievances through Huduma Centre instead of cybercafés.

“Prior thereto, the Judiciary was viewed by many as characterised by inefficiencies, delays, and inadequate administrative capacity. This rating has slightly changed as the institution is seen as fairly responsive to the citizenry’s concerns,” said Koome. 

She said tribunals are established and exist to provide easy, affordable, speedy and specialised forums for resolving disputes and Kenyans and investors expect quality, efficient and cost-effective delivery of service. 

The CJ said for tribunals to discharge their mandate effectively, they require continuous training and development of tribunal chairpersons, members and staff.

She also said the mention of cases ought to be done at the registry instead of being done by judges.

“Why does a judge have to travel just to mention cases. The cases can be mentioned at the registry,” said Koome.

She said through her bottom-up approach to access to justice, she seeks to achieve efficiency in the delivery of services running from magistrates, Khadhis courts, tribunals, superior courts all the way to the apex court.  

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