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CJ Koome launches a small claims court in Meru

Chief Justice Martha Koome Monday officially launched the 12th Small Claims Court in Meru town which will expedite justice for residents and reduce the backlog of cases in Meru law courts.

Speaking during the event, the CJ said the establishment was informed by the backlog of cases in the five magistrate courts in the county run by about 20 magistrates.

“The opening of the small claims courts is part of a plan by the Judiciary to deal with the huge backlog of cases in Kenyan courts, and also keeping up with the government’s bottom up economic agenda as it targets the low income earners who have disputes,” said Koome.

The CJ was accompanied by Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza, her deputy Isaac Mutuma, Ombudsman Florence Kajuju, Woman representative Elizabeth Karambu Kailemia, and Meru presiding judge Edward Muriithi among other judiciary officials.

She said the small and medium business people accounted for a significant portion of the economy, hence the need to expedite justice for them by way of fast-tracking their disputes in court and as a result help them to continue with their businesses.

“If someone owes a small businessperson Sh20,000, that is enough to make her close down her business. The small claims court therefore is here to ensure such people get justice within 60 days of filing the case and thereafter continue with their businesses,” she said.

She said this was also another way of ensuring that the process of justice trickled down to the people in the rural areas.

She promised that due to the population of Meru Municipality, similar courts would also be opened in Maua and Nkubu to ease the burden of the cases.

“We are also hiring 60 resident magistrates and we will deploy some of them as adjudicators in the small claims court including Meru County,” said Koome.

The Judiciary, according to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Mr Paul Ndemo, is targeting to open about 100 small claims courts that will be spread throughout the country.

Governor Kawira said her administration was ready to offer the Judiciary more land to build courts across the county adding that the introduction of the claims court was a game changer.

She said they were also in the final stages of acquiring land for construction of a court in Timau and establishment of more courts in Gaitu, Mutuati and Mikinduri.

“We are ready to give the Judiciary all the support they require in the interest of ensuring our people get the services they deserve,” said Ms Mwangaza.

The CJ also said that Meru had been identified as a hotspot for gender-based violence hence the Judiciary’s decision to establish a special court to handle such cases by June this year.

“We will also be rolling out education programmes about respect to others or what we call judicial hygiene to ensure that people respect each other and as a result reduce the number of crimes committed against each other,” said Ms Koome.

By Dickson Mwiti and Brendah Wanja

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