Chief Justice Martha Koome has emphasised that judges must take individual responsibility to ensure that the backlog of cases in their courts are cleared.
She pointed out that judges should take a personal initiative to ensure that justice is not delayed.
“I issued a directive on individual monthly returns and expect this directive to be timeously adhered to,” the Chief Justice said Friday in a speech to the Environment and Land Court 2021 Annual Judges’ Conference via video link.
The meeting has been taking place in Mombasa.
Chief Justice Koome told the judges that case management should be court driven.
“You must reduce the number of adjournments and strive to resolve cases with fewer hearings. To do this, always endeavour to make each case hearing date meaningful. You must discourage interlocutory applications and preliminary objections.”
She said to achieve the objective, judges should be fully in charge of their case dockets.
She 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 which are filed and those which are pending. We should not leave these roles to our court administrators or registry staff. We, as judges must take the lead in case management. It is we who determine cases and as such must manage them,” the Chief Justice underscored.
She 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-filling and video/remote hearings to ensure that courts deliver on their constitutional prerogative to deliver justice.
She pointed out that even though the Covid pandemic had presented 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. This has saved litigants money and time. These are gains that we ought to celebrate and progress in our quest to broaden access of justice to all’” CJ Koome said.
She said the courts should prepare for an increased case load 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 delivery of justice.
“Roughly 60 per cent of cases adjudicated in our courts are land matters or have a land related dimension. 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.”
She stressed the need for the Environment and Land Court is expected to develop a robust and indigenous jurisprudence that gives effect to the Constitution’s social transformation agenda.