Chief Justice Martha Koome has directed the 27 recently appointed judges of the Environment and Land Court (ELC) as well as the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) to report to work on August 1, 2021.
The judges, who are undergoing induction, comprise 18 from the ELC and 9 from the ELRC
CJ Koome said eight of the judges will sit full-time in newly established ELC stations in Nyamira, Kilgoris, Siaya, Vihiga, Kwale, Isiolo, Homo Bay and Nanyuki.
The new stations bring the total number of ELCs in the country to 34 at the county level, with the number of judges rising to 51 following the new appointments.
CJ Koome, who spoke to the judges on Wednesday, said she now hopes to see improved access to justice and expeditious disposal of cases.
“Your appointment brings hope to Kenyans seeking justice through your courts,” she told the judges at a Nairobi hotel.
“Approximately 60 per cent of cases adjudicated in our courts are land matters or have a land related dimension. The implication is that the Environment and Land Court either in its original or appellate jurisdiction deals with the bulk of cases in our courts.”
The Judiciary, in a statement too newsrooms, said ELRC now has three full-time judges in Kericho, Malindi and Bungoma; the court is faced with 13,500 pending cases, with 9,500 of them being in Nairobi.
The ELRC has nine fully fledged registries in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kericho, Nyeri, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Bungoma and Malindi.
“Every judge must take individual initiative to reduce backlog and ensure that we hear and determine cases in a timely manner. My expectation is that no case should take more than three years before a trial court and no more than one year in an appellate court,” stated CJ Koome.
She urged the judges to embrace active case management to deal with the backlog and the expected increased case filings, further stressing that case management should be court-driven and not left to litigants and advocates.
“You must reduce the number of adjournments and strive to resolve cases with fewer hearings. Always endeavour to make each case hearing date meaningful. You must discourage interlocutory applications and preliminary objections,” she told the judges.
CJ Koome also sought to assure the judges that her administration will give them adequate support to discharge their duties.
“Our Constitution is unique in its preoccupation with values, principles, rules, and policies touching on the environment and land, and fair labour practices. We must ensure that these values and principles radiate to every nook and cranny of our legal system,” she said.
“They have a right to be informed of the orders which affect them, to understand the same and the reason why the orders have been made. You must go out of your way to treat litigants with politeness, dignity, and respect.”
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