CJ Martha Koome says 50 more magistrates to be hired to clear case backlog

CJ Martha Koome says 50 more magistrates to be hired to clear case backlog

Chief Justice Martha Koome has announced that 50 more magistrates will be recruited into the Judiciary from next month to help ease the case backlog. CJ Koome, speaking during a meeting with principal and presiding judges from the High Court in Nairobi on Monday, said the gap created in the High Court by the recent elevation of 10 judges to the Court of Appeal will also be addressed. “We also need a multi-door approach like the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Annexed Mediation to offload cases from the courts,” she said. She said more than 5,000 cases had been resolved through mediation with a success rate of 60 per cent, thereby injecting Ksh.14 billion back into the economy. “I will engage other stakeholders at the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) to encourage use of plea bargaining,” she said, adding that all cases in the courts should be active before a clerk, deputy registrar or judge. CJ Koome, who as part of her strategy to clear the case backlog has been rooting for a no-adjournment policy, previously directed that all cases be resolved within three years of filing, and within a year in the appellate stage. Principal Judge of the High Court, Justice Lydia Achode, during the meeting, told the CJ that various divisions of the High Court have been clearing case backlog through comprehensive case audits. “The Commercial and Tax Division which had 7,497 cases as at June 30, 2020 has managed to clear 3,744 cases. Over the same period, 2,315 new cases were filed, leading to a caseload of 6,038 as at June 30 this year,” Justice Achode said. “The division has also adopted use of the Judiciary Transcription System where court proceedings are recorded and transcribed real-time.” According to a statement to newsrooms, 1,556 cases were resolved in the Family Division out of 4,519; an additional 2,621 new cases were however filed. In the Civil Division, 1,869 cases were finalised over the same period out of 6,867, with an extra 1,979 new cases lodged. In the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Division, there were 190 cases pending as at June 30, 2020 with 75 cases resolved by June this year. Over the same period, 62 new cases were filed. In the Judicial Review Division, 276 cases out of 1,153 cases were resolved, with another 342 cases filed over the same period. In the Criminal Division 397 cases were resolved out of 1,628, with another 918 cases filed. In the Constitutional Division, 1,016 cases were pending, with an additional 454 cases filed and 407 finalised over a similar period. “Apart from the audits, the courts have adopted use of IT, updating the case tracking system, using service weeks, Rapid Result Initiatives and Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms to finalise pending cases,” read the statement from the Judiciary. “The courts have however faced a low number of judges, shortage of staff and lack of adequate court rooms to effectively handle cases.”

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