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Judges urged to take individual responsibility to clear backlog

KNA    Chief Justice Martha Koome has called on judges to take individual responsibility to ensure that the backlog of cases in their courts are cleared.


Koome pointed out that judges should take a personal initiative to ensure that justice is not delayed adding they must reduce the number of adjournments and strive to resolve cases with fewer hearings


In a speech to the Environment and Land Court 2021 Annual Judges’ Conference via video link the chief justice told the judges that case management should be court driven.


“I issued a directive on individual monthly returns and expect this directive to be timeously adhered to,” CJ Koome said.


She told the judges to always endeavor to make each case hearing date meaningful and discourage interlocutory applications and preliminary objections.


The Chief Justice urged the judges to take the initiative of actively monitoring the progress of the cases in their courts by finding out from time to time, how many cases are pending and for how long they have been in the system.


“We must always try to track cases that are filed and those which are pending, not leaving these roles to our court administrators or registry staff,” said the Chief Justice


She insisted that judges must take the lead in case management for they determine cases and as such must manage them.


Koome pledged support in the area of Information Communication Technology, in light of the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic to ensure justice is dispensed expeditiously.


CJ Koome said the Judiciary has embraced e-filing and video/remote hearings to ensure that courts deliver on their constitutional prerogative to deliver justice, pointing out that despite the Covid pandemic challenges, judges and other judicial officers could now deal with all chamber matters including judgments and rulings remotely.


“No advocate or litigant needs to come to court for a chamber application, a judgment, or ruling. The advocates and litigants acting in person can also file cases from the comfort of their offices and homes and can attend court remotely from wherever they are thus saving litigants money and time,” CJ Koome said.


She said the courts should prepare for an increased caseload as the country moves from the lockdown period.


The Chief Justice noted that the Environment and Land Court is a very critical cog in the broader, Kenyan-owned, and empowering the delivery of justice.


She cited that Roughly 60 percent of cases adjudicated in our courts are land matters or have a land-related dimension and the implication is that the Environment and Land Court either in its original or appellate jurisdiction deals with the bulk of cases in our courts.  Thus, the efficiency of this court is key to curing the perennial criticism of inaccessible and delayed justice in our courts.”


She said judicial officers will need to innovate unique interventions such as their own case management systems that improve their efficiency in service delivery.


“This will be critical for the realization of the expeditious delivery of justice goal of my vision which aims to ensure that no court case should stay in a trial court beyond a timeline of three years or in an appellate court beyond one year,” added CJ Koome


She stressed the need for the Environment and Land Court to develop a robust and indigenous jurisprudence that gives effect to the Constitution’s social transformation agenda.



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