Chief Justice Martha Koome has officially inaugurated sixty-nine new Resident Magistrates set to additionally function as Small Claims Court Adjudicators.
Labeling the Magistrates’ Courts and Small Claims Courts as the “face of the justice system,” she underscored their importance by citing statistics that reveal 85% of the Judiciary’s case load is determined at these subordinate courts.
She noted, “This is so because it is at the Magistrates’ Courts and the Small Claims Courts that the majority of the cases – ranging from criminal and traffic to civil – that come to the justice system are heard and resolved.”
She also highlighted the fact that these courts have the highest number of unrepresented litigants, which means that most individuals’ experience of law and justice is rooted in their interactions with these very courts.
In her address, CJ Koome laid significant emphasis on streamlining operations in these courts.
She urged the magistrates to tackle the persistent issues of case backlogs and delivery delays, setting an ambitious target of ensuring no case remains unresolved for more than three years in a Magistrates Court and no more than sixty days in a Small Claims Court.
Speaking on their roles, she emphasized the importance of adopting “active case management” and advocated for a strict adherence to the ‘no adjournment’ policy to guarantee efficient case handling.
As a reminder of their duty, she stated, “Your responsibility as judicial officers is to rule on the cases before you strictly in line with the law.” In her concluding remarks, she addressed the pressing issue of corruption within the Judiciary, reiterating a zero-tolerance stance, and urged the magistrates to maintain the utmost integrity throughout their tenure.