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JSC inaugurates Small Claims Court at Malaba to Reduce Case backlog

The Judicial Service Commission has rolled out the Small Claims Court in Malaba of Busia County to ease the process of justice administration for residents and reduce the backlog of cases at the Resident Magistrate court.

This comes three months after Malaba Law Court was operationalised hastening the access to justice by residents of Teso North, Teso South and Teso Central sub counties who had to pay heavily to get justice at Busia High Court before then.

Speaking to the press the Deputy Registrar of Small Claims Courts Susan Gitonga noted that already JSC has established 22 small claims courts in the country with 15 others to be rolled out next month.

“A Small Claim Court is a subordinate court in line with Article 169(1)(d) of the Constitution and established under Section 4 (1) of the Small Claims Act No. 2 of 2016 and has jurisdiction over civil claims whose subject matter does not exceed Kenya Shillings One Million (Sh1,000,000),” said Gitonga.

The main objective of the establishment of these courts is to enhance access to and expeditious delivery of justice as envisioned under article 48 of the constitution.

“The court has jurisdiction over civil claims relating to contract for sale and supply of goods and services, contract relating to money held and received, liability in tort in respect of loss or damage of any property, compensation for personal injuries claims and set-off and counterclaim under any contract,” she added.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Malaba Resident Magistrate Ocharo Momanyi who noted that so far since establishment of Small Claims Courts, 34,000 cases have been registered of which 29,000 have been attended resulting in Sh6.5 billion paid out to the complainants.

“Malaba is very strategic to the hundreds of residents from three subcounties owing to the fact that we also handle numerous traffic cases due to the fact that Malaba Highway being the gateway to East and Central Africa,” noted magistrate Momanyi.

The operationalisation of the SCCs is also aimed at the creation of a people-centric approach to access to justice by affording the citizenry justice services that were accessible, inclusive, efficient, timely and responsive to specific access needs of particular groups likely to suffer from social and economic disadvantage.

Initially Teso North residents residing at Changara had to pay over Sh1500 to hire bodaboda motorbike operators to attend court proceedings in Busia.

Today Busia, Mandera, Moyale and Taita Taveta benefited with the addition of SCCs in effort to streamline administration of justice.

“It had largely been observed that hefty court fees, complexity of procedures and delays in determination of cases contributed to barriers to access to justice more so to the marginalized, vulnerable and those with complex needs,” added Gitonga.

It is notable that the operationalization of the Small Claims Courts has enhanced access to justice by expanding the reach of the formal justice system and facilitated access to justice for a category of claimants who were previously unable to access mainstream judicial services for various reasons.

By Absalom Namwalo and Owen Mutai

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