NAIROBI November 7 – The Judiciary is formulating a strategic plan for years 2009 to 2011 that will see an improved legal system, Chief Justice Evan Gicheru said on Friday.,
Speaking during the admission of 60 new advocates to the bar, Justice Gicheru announced that under the new plan, key reform procedures would be undertaken to create efficiency in the judiciary. It will involve all interested parties in the justice system and seek the input of the public.
He added that the plan would also encompass the re-formulation of rules that govern filing of cases in court to create a new regime that would see formulation of ‘efficient case management principles’ in addition to the current civil and criminal procedure rules.
“The thematic format of the judicial improvement program covers broad areas of the efficiency of the court, access to justice, transparency of the judiciary outreach activities and staff training. This will build into our continuous reform initiatives, which will be codified as a formation in the next strategic plan,” said Justice Gicheru.
He said the approach would enable the utilisation of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that would help enhance resolution of matters and in turn reduce a backlog of cases within the justice system.
Justice Gicheru said that the Judiciary Rules Committee had held consultative meetings with key players in the judiciary and was poised to adopt the agreed new rules by January 2009.
“The committee is now set to discuss the draft rules with all the stakeholders so that new regime of rules is adopted for commencement,” he said.
Already, the judiciary has adopted other mechanisms aimed at improving the delivery of justice among them being the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
Currently, there is a pilot project for recording court proceedings which aims to create accurate transcripts and lead to greater efficiency. Also, there are plans to introduce a case track for the Family Division, to enable easy access to what Justice Gicheru termed “pertinent information by both the judges and lawyers.”
Similarly, he noted that research officers had been hired at the Court of Appeal and the High Court to help improve the timeliness of judgements.
The CJ however called on the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s office in conjunction with the Law Society of Kenya to establish effective systems of legal aid to help those without means to access justice.
Meanwhile, Justice Gicheru has urged lawyers to adequately improve their performance in court to help expedite litigation.
“I reiterate my advice to the advocates to engage their professional skills to bear upon the complex issue of modern life, expanding the realms of the rights and remedies for our people by constantly seeking to develop new principles of law to cater for their new situations, expeditions and aspirations. The large turnout of advocates should not compromise the standards of professional conduct of the advocates.”
He also called for adherence to court rules by the newly admitted advocates, to enhance speedy conclusion of cases.