The backlog of cases in Meru County is set to reduce significantly following operationalization of a small claims court that will be based at Meru law courts.
Addressing journalists after the event that took place in one of the hotels in Meru County, acting Registrar of the small claims court Ms Stellah Kanyiri said the court in Meru will be the 12th in the country and its establishment was informed by the backlog of cases in the five magistrate courts in the county run by about 20 magistrates.
“Our call to the residents is that we have now operationalized the court at Meru law courts which is supposed to adjudicate claims involving business transactions or debts at a personal level,” said Kanyiri adding that this was a specialized commercial court meaning that it will only be dealing with cases involving money.
She added: “With this court, one can personally file a claim and pay subsidized fees at a maximum of Sh1, 000 and have the case decided within 60 days.”
If a person is not satisfied with the decision of the court, she said, one was at liberty to file the appeals at the high court on matters of the law only and that decision is final meaning there is no room to proceed to the court of appeal.
“Small claims court involve very simple procedures in that someone can come to court and represent himself or get an advocate, or someone else who is not an advocate who comes to court and gets permission from the court to act on behalf of the litigant,” she said.
But for an individual who is not an advocate to be allowed to represent someone, she added, he should satisfy the court that the said person cannot appear in court or lacks skills to represent himself.
At the same time, the representative should prove to the court that he has sufficient knowledge of the matter and that he has authorization from the litigant.
Kanyiri clarified that the court will only deal with cases whose cause of action is within the County as it is bound by territorial jurisdictions.
On her part, the court adjudicator Ms Lillian Maina encouraged residents to make use of the opportunity by filing their cases and having them finalized within 60 days.
She said they were expecting to get a bigger load in the civil matters compared to the magistrate’s court because their main target is the money disputes from small businesspeople.
“The small claims court is in the same status with other courts but its uniqueness lies in the fact that matters filed here should be concluded within a span of 60 days as opposed to the magistrate courts where cases can take even up to one year,” said Maina adding that they were up to assisting people approach them easily and have their matters expedited.
She added that in future, such courts will be launched in every county within the country. “The registry is already opened at the Meru law courts but slowly we will be opening some registries in other court stations within the County,” said Maina.
Justice CK Nzili who represented Meru High Court Presiding Judge Edward Murithi encouraged residents to channel their disputes to the court in order to enjoy the fruits of the initiative.
“I take this chance to laud the office of the Chief Justice for gazetting Meru law courts to host the small claims court. As you are aware this does not come as a surprise given that Meru County contributes about 3 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said Justice Nzili.
Meru law courts Chief Magistrate Ms Dominica Nyambu said they were sure that the backlog of small cases in the County will reduce significantly as they will be handled in a simple, inexpensive and expeditious manner.
Meru Bar Association Chairman Mr. Ken Muriuki said Meru ought to have been the fourth to have such a court considering the backlog of cases in the county. He said the operationalization was a move in the right direction in terms of promulgation of the small claims act.
“I hope the judiciary will also deem it fit to have another adjudicator in Maua and Nkubu considering that generally Meru people are a litigious society,” said Muriuki.
By Dickson Mwiti