, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – Chief Justice David Maraga has reiterated Judiciary’s commitment to improving court service efficiency through automation of court processes and zero tolerance to graft.
Maraga who spoke on Thursday at the launch of the Commercial Justice Sector Reforms Project said the introduction of technology in case management had drastically reduced incidences of missing files with the time taken to generate cause lists drastically reducing.
“The time taken to prepare the cause list has been reduced from one week to just one hour besides introducing the aspects of transparency and accuracy,” he pointed out.
The Chief Justice also cited adoption of a Case Tracking System which was first piloted at the High Court Commercial Division in July 2017 before being fully activated at the Milimani Law Courts as a major enabler to his four-year service delivery agenda (2017-2021) towards sustainable Judiciary transformation.
Maraga said the introduction of an electronic payment system had enhanced accountability in revenue collection.
“The generation of court Fee Collection Reports shows the summaries of all the type of fees the court collected and the staff that did the fee assessment this as brought in transparency and incidences of corruption,” he said.
The head of the Judiciary said digital case searches and file movement tracking had been enabled at the Milimani Law Courts further enhancing service delivery and eliminate corruption.
“File Movement Tracking has enabled a quick tracing of case files just by searching in the system and this has assisted in minimizing incidences of missing files or files being misplaced/misfiled,” he said.
According to the CJ, a total of 14,545 cases have been captured in the case tracking system so far with the commercial justice sector accounting for 11,005 of those.
Quick resolution of commercial disputes is seen as a critical component in creating an enabling environment for business to thrive with the resolution of some 93 commercial cases last year playing a leading role in catapulting the country twelve places up in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business to stand at position 80 globally.
The conclusion of the cases also had a great economic significance with Sh1.1 billion tied up in litigation being released as a result.
To further the transformation agenda, the judiciary is piloting electronic filing of cases and fee assessment.
Selected firms taking part in the pilot have reported a reduced amount of time taken to file cases from an hour to ten minutes.
“Since the month of April 2018, a total of 37 cases have been filed electronically in the Commercial and Tax Division by different law firms and this marks important progress in ensuring efficiency,” Maraga reported.
He, however, called for cooperation from court users to harness the use of technology with data indicating that thirty-five per cent of adjournments are as a result of the absence of parties, a situation that has significantly contributed to case backlog.
The Chief Justice also encouraged parties involved in commercial disputes to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms such as mediation through which a 57.4 per cent settlement rate has been attained so far.
Speaking at the event, Kingdom of Netherlands’ Ambassador, Frans Makken, pledged to support efforts by the judiciary to improve on court service efficiency for speedy economic growth.
Makken noted that delays in the conclusion of commercial disputes were a major threat to the achievement of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four action plan with prolonged periods of determination slowing down the country’s competitiveness and ease of doing business.
“When an investor comes to Kenya and has a plan to invest Sh100 million in manufacturing and create jobs, if that investor is confronted with court injunctions and delays then that has a huge impact on the economy,” Makken whose county is supporting the Commercial Justice Sector Reforms Project to the tune of Sh300 million said.
“When it comes to the implementation of the Big Four, we have to talk about job creation. That cannot be achieved if it takes too long to determine business disputes,” he added.