Chief Justice Martha Koome has called on judges to prepare for increased caseload as the country recovers from the effects of the lockdown caused by the pandemic.
Speaking during the Environment and Land Court annual judges conference in Mombasa, CJ Koome said judges will have to actively monitor the caseload in courts and practice active case management.
“That is the way we can deal with the backlog and the expected increase in case filings. We cannot deal with the backlogs through case determinations,” she said through a virtual platform.
Koome said through proper case management, a judge would be able to dispose of a good percentage of his or her cases without even conducting a trial. She emphasised on the need by judicial officers to take individual responsibility to ensure that backlog is cleared.
“Judges must own this duty and take personal initiative and responsibility to ensure justice is not delayed. I had issued a directive on individual monthly returns and expect this directive to be timeously adhered to,” she said.
Koome further urged the judges to reduce adjournments and strive to resolve cases with fewer hearings. To do this, the judges will be required to make each case hearing date meaningful. They are to discourage applications and objections from parties.
Koome at the same time lauded their performance by noting their exceptional reduction of case backlog during the 2019-20 financial year, with a case clearance rate of over 100 per cent.
“This is very commendable. With an addition of 18 judges, I have no doubt that your expedition of cases will continue to be rated as excellent,” she said.
Data from the ELC also shows the cases filed in 2019-20 financial year dropped by up to 30 per cent compared to the cases filed in 2018-2019. Similarly, the number of cases resolved during the same period dripped by 22 per cent.
During the conference attended by CS Lands Farida Karoney, Koome undertook to sustain and upgrade the existing ICT infrastructure to support speedy resolution of cases.
She said she will do her part to ensure judges, judicial officers and tribunal members have adequate support to discharge their duties especially during the coronavirus pandemic season.
She acknowledged the challenges being faced by the ICT directorate and said it is being addressed as a matter of priority.
“We will enhance the training of users and ICT personnel and will also deal with the internet connectivity and power back-up challenges,” she said.