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Cases will now have judgment deadlines

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19 – Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has come up with an ambitious plan aimed at speedy conclusion of cases and also restore public confidence into the Judiciary.

Mutunga on Wednesday said the plan will include deadlines on hearing of cases and the writing of judgments with a view to reducing their timelines and reduce backlog of cases.

Speaking during the presentation of a progress report of the first 120 days, Mutunga pointed out that currently the Judiciary is clogged with close to a million cases with two-thirds of them being traffic related.

He said a strict watch on the duration of cases will result in the reduction of the back log.

“My office and the ICT department are in the process of creating an electronic base system for monitoring and tracking overdue judgments and rulings with a view to taking remedial action,” he stated. “It is a policy of the judiciary that once proceedings begin, cases will be heard back to back on a first filed first heard basis.”

He further gave the court of Appeal six months to clear all pending cases.

“We have asked the parties in the oldest cases filed as far back as 2004 to take dates within the month so that their matters can be disposed of. Within six months, I expect the court of Appeal to be hearing only fresh applications,” he directed.

“I also intend to reduce the waiting period for appeal cases from the current average six years to less than a year,” he said.

He further stated that a massive digitization process of the whole Judiciary is being undertaken to hasten hearing of cases.

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“The Court of Appeal has digitised 10,000 records covering years 1999 – 2010. Some 1,042 cases that should be progressing in the High Court are waiting arguments in the Court of Appeal while some 942 main appeals are yet to be heard,” he said.

The Judiciary has further embarked on a major recruitment drive to address the issue of understaffing and to also deal with the backlog of cases.

Mutunga said 28 new High court judges have been employed in the last 120 days bringing the total number to 80.

He stated that advertisements have already been sent for the recruitment of seven additional Court of Appeal judges and another 160 magistrates.

He further announced that judges will no longer be having administrative duties which will leave them free to perform their tasks.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo termed measures put in place to radically change the Judiciary as long overdue.

Speaking during the presentation of the progress report, he said the setting up of the Supreme Court in Kenya will make it easier for reforms to take place.

“I never expected in my lifetime to hear the statements the Chief Justice is making because that is what I have been fighting for. If you look at the records, you will find that when I was chairman of the Law Society of Kenya way back in 1993 is when I started demanding for a Supreme Court,” he said.

He further lauded the digitization process announced by Mutunga during his address.

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“I would like to suggest to Kenyans to watch through Sky News the Live broadcast of the trial of Dr (Conrad) Murray (the late Michael Jackson’s doctor) and you will see what a judge is supposed to do. That judge, his work is just to roll about in the chair and make directives once in a while.”


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