The number of Court of Appeal stations has expanded to five with the addition of a court of appeal in Nakuru County, after Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nyeri, which is expected to meet enhanced demand for services. It is expected that this number could soon grow to six, with the expected addition of a court of appeal in Eldoret, according to Chief Justice Martha Koome.
The appellate court in Nakuru County will make it easier for Kenyans within the Rift Valley region to cut the distance traveled and time taken to have their cases heard and determined, hence increasing access to justice.
The Court of Appeal of Kenya is established under Article164 of the constitution of Kenya and consists of not fewer than twelve judges, and a maximum of 30 judges. The Court of Appeal handles appeals arising over the decisions of the High Court as well as any other court or Tribunal as provided for in Law. The Judges of the Court of Appeal elect a President from among themselves.
Nakuru County Governor Susan Kihika applauded the judiciary for the creation of the court saying, “We feel greatly honored as Nakuru County to have a permanent Court of Appeal to handle appeals emanating from this region.” She also offered land as had previously been requested by the judiciary within the County to put up other courts within the County.
President Court of Appeal Justice Daniel Musinga enumerated the challenges that the Court faced, when the number had reduced to 12 judges. “It was so painful to get letters from people whose cases had been delayed for years, we promise to deliver justice faster,’ said Justice Musinga.
The Presiding Judge Court of Appeal Nakuru will be Lady Justice Fatuma Sichale, while the judges of the court are Hon. Justice Fred Ochieng, Hon Lady Justice Lydia Achode, and Hon. Mr. Justice Weldon Korir.
The Deputy Chief Justice DCJ Philomena Mwilu challenged the newly appointed judges to meet the very high expectations regarding expeditious disposal of matters at the Court of Appeal and reduction of backlog. She added that the Court of Appeal needs to lead the way and set the standard through jurisprudence and efficiency in administration of justice.
The Law Society of Kenya led by its President Eric Theuri says there is need to amend the law to allow for an increase in the number of judges, adding that there are also high expectations regarding the quality of decisions from the Court of Appeal, considering most litigation ends at the Court of Appeal.
Chief JusticeKoome urged also urged the Rift Valley Law Society Branch and other court users to actively cooperate and work with the Judges to ensure that the target of expeditious resolution of appeals is realized, even as the judiciary works with counties and the Council of Governors to build partnerships that will address the ‘justice needs’ of Kenyans.