NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 26- The Judiciary has launched the first-ever Small ClaimS Court in Kenya to determine suits for claims below Sh1 million, with rulings expected in 60 days.
The court was officially opened by acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu who called on adjudicators handling the cases to ensure Kenyans seeking justice are served expeditiously and that cases are determined within the shortest time possible.
“A key priority of this court is the expeditious nature of how we are going to do things. The Act requires that all proceedings before this court on any particular day are to be heard and determined on the same day or on a day to day basis until its determinations,” said Mwilu.
“Where you must adjourn and where exceptional circumstances exist and which you must record on the file, then you may want to deliver your judgment within 60 days. Let that be the exception rather than the rule,” she said.
Three adjudicators including Brenda Jaluha Ofisi, Susan Gakii Gitonga and Judith Patience Omollo were sworn in to work in the newly launched court.
President of the Law Society of Kenya Nelson Havi said the Small Claim Court will not only ensure that ordinary Kenyans get justice but will also create job opportunities for young advocates willing to serve as adjudicators.
“It is our expectation that the Small Claims court will prosper and flourish. Soon you will be joined by other adjudicators and it is our request that many adjudicators will be appointed and within the shortest time possible we will have small claim courts across the country with all the 47 counties represented,” Havi said.
Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Regional Development Adan Mohamed said the opening of the small claims court will ensure businesspeople in huge cooperates and small and medium businesses get equal representation opportunities in the justice system.
“Over 65 percent of the backlog of our court cases relate to the small and medium sizes businesses and presumably below the 1 million shillings threshold that will now be the target of this court. With the number of days cut, fees waived and processes automated we hope that will now become an issue of the past,” Mohamed said.
The court will have the jurisdiction to hear and determine dispute cases relating to contracts for sale and supply of goods and services, money held and received liability in loss or damage of property, compensation for personal injuries among others.