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More Court of Appeal Judges needed, Koome

The Chief Justice Martha Koome has requested for an increase of the number of Judges at The Court of Appeal to reduce the case backlog.

The CJ expressed her concerns on the shortage of staff saying the Court of Appeal listens to over 2,500 cases in a year.

Koome also appealed to the government to improve infrastructure of the judiciary for effective service delivery. “It is absolutely necessary to build the capacity of this court by increasing the number of Judges. Despite the shortage of staff, the court has been able to achieve a 50% clearance rate,” said Koome during a performance review workshop for The Court of appeal judges at The Serena Beach Hotel in Mombasa.

The President of the Court of Appeal Justice Daniel Musinga backed the sentiments of the CJ by saying that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) must be provided with sufficient funds to ensure the constitutional requirement for the number of Judges in The Court of Appeal is achieved.

“In the court of Appeal we have only 20 Judges contrary to the constitutionally required 30 Judges, we plead with the JSC to ensure that we increase our capacity to handle the 8000 cases in the system,” added Justice Musinga.

Musinga continued to explain that the increase in the number of Judges in other courts that bring cases of appeals like The High Court, Environment and Land Court together with Employment and Labor Court, that have more than 100 Judges each, has significantly reduced their capacity to handle all the cases quickly.

The Chief Justice applauded the efforts of The Court of Appeal to conduct an overhaul in order to understand where the problems they face are and to work towards improving their service delivery.

Koome reminded the Judges present that the people of Kenya are the ones that give the judiciary its mandate to ensure justice is served and that they do not expect to keep coming back to court because of pending cases.

The Court of Appeal has shown that they are determined to handle all the cases received in a year as they headed the judicial sector in transitioning to virtual hearings during the Covid-19 lockdown period in 2020.

Judges of the Court of Appeal have been named the trailblazers of digitization in the sector by setting international standards in administering justice through the internet and the use of modern technology.

The Court of Appeal has been using new systems to improve the administration of justice during the pandemic including electronic filing and secure virtual hearings.

This went further as the office of the registrar of the court assisted those who could not have access to the internet and difficulties with machines, by providing a space within the court of appeal building that can accommodate them during their hearing.

This effort has been able to tackle the old cases first as a policy set by The Court of Appeal, as it allows people to be in the comfort of their home during proceedings improving the efficiency of the court.

On the infrastructure division, Koome said there is a need to modernize the infrastructure of the judiciary so as to be at par with the current demand and standards of the people of Kenya.

“The Supreme Court building, where the Court of Appeal is located was built in 1935 and was meant for 7 Judges. It has been stretched beyond its capacity and requires renovation,” added Koome.

The CJ assured the Judges that plans are underway to build new facilities and advance in modern technology for them to serve the people better and administer justice more efficiently.

By Chari Suche and Khatib Suleiman

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