CJ Martha Koome: Here are 5 counties that filed many court cases last year

Chief Justice Martha Koome during the hearing of presidential petition on September 2, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kiambu and Machakos counties account for 42 per cent of the 404,000 new cases filed in court in the 2021/2022 Financial Year, Chief Justice Martha Koome said on Friday.

The Chief Justice said a total of 678,000 cases are pending determination in various courts across the country.

She made the remarks at the Supreme Court Buildings in Nairobi on November 4 during the release of the State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Report for the 2021/2022 Financial Year.

Of the 678,000 pending cases, some 294,278 are criminal in nature and 384,419 are civil in nature.

"This is an increase [of unresolved cases] by 5 per cent from the previous year. Seventy-six per cent of these pending cases are in the Magistrates' Courts," said Koome.

"Of the pending cases at the end of the period, 50 per cent (some 336,420) have been in the court system for over one year, a 10 per cent decline from the previous year," said the Chief Justice.

Koome said in one year alone, Kenyans filed a total of 404,312 cases in court, with Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kiambu and Machakos counties accounting for the bulk of the new suits.

At the same time, Koome said the Judiciary cleared some 381,317 cases in the last one year. Some 231,415 of the resolved cases were criminal in nature, while 149,902 were civil in nature.

On how the Judiciary spent the Sh18.12 billion allocated to it in the 2021/2022 Financial Year, the Chief Justice said Sh15.97 billion was used on recurrent expenditure, while Sh2.15 billion was channeled to development.

The CJ also brought to President William Ruto's attention the understaffing at the Judiciary.

She said the Judiciary needs at least 9,417 staff members to operate optimally.

The 9,417 employees are 348 judges, 1,200 judicial officers including magistrates and Kadhis, 650 law clerks and legal researchers, and 7,219 Judicial staff.

Kenya currently has 6,182 Judiciary employees, with judges at 49 per cent of the required number, judicial officers (49 per cent), law clerks and researchers (27 per cent) and Judicial staff (66 per cent).

Koome also hailed the Judiciary for meeting gender parity, with 49 per cent of the staff members being female and 51 per cent being male.

At the same time, she said 71 per cent of the staff members are in the 26 to 45 years' age bracket.

Besides underfunding and understaffing, the Chief Justice urged the president to allocate the Judiciary funds to improve the Supreme Court Buildings, construct Court of Appeal headquarters and the High Court headquarters.

"In fact, if we get adequate support, we are thinking of having a night shift operation of the Small Claims Court with some adjudicators sitting from 5pm to 8pm in Nairobi and Mombasa cities, which would be a first for any public sector institution in Kenya and regionally," said Koome.

The function was attended by President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula, Attorney-General Justin Muturi, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, among others.