The Judiciary has remained consistent in its bid to increase access to justice. The Small Claims Court Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) handbook has now been translated into Swahili to make it more user friendly to more people.
Titled ‘Mahakama Ya Madai Madogo’, The Court had the handbook translated into Swahili to provide general information on the procedures of the court in an effort to reach more litigants.
The Small Claims Court has also configured the E-filing and Case Tracking System to enable auto allocation of case management dates upon filing of cases. “All SCC cases are active until finalization, with no date sections in the various registries”, said the judiciary in an interactive twitter chat on innovations instituted by the Judiciary, to ensure that Kenyans can access services conveniently and in a timely manner.
The Small Claims Court has also established support desks to offer filing assistance to vulnerable and indigent clients.
The Small Claims Court (the Court) was established by the Small Claims Act 2016, which was assented to on 1st April 2016 and amended by the Small Claims Court (Amendment) Act, 2020. Gazetted in 2021, the Court is established under Article 169 (1)(d) of the Constitution with a monetary jurisdiction of matters not exceeding KES. 1,000,000/=.
In its first year of operations, the Court had heard and determined 481 cases out of the 1,222 registered.
The main objective of the Court is to guarantee the right of access to justice as envisioned under Article 48 of the Constitution through timely disposal of all proceedings before the Court, equal opportunity to access judicial services, reduction of case backlog, ensure fairness of process; and simplicity of procedures among others.
Matters lodged at the court have a conclusion timeline of 60 days (2 months) have a direct impact on the ease of doing business in Kenya, due to the speedy resolution of disputes, so long as one has a valid contract.
Content creators who also struggle to get paid once work is done and delivered to their clients, through delay and or denial, find the Small Claims Court useful in assisting the resolution of non-payment for service delivery, so long as they have valid contracts.
Other innovations as cited by the Judiciary during the interactive session include among others the translation of the Wundanyi Law Courts Clients Service Charter from English to Kiswahili and later to Taita language.
The judiciary says this is in order to meet the needs of its local clients.
The Charter titled “Mkataba wa huduma kwa mteja” was translated by Felix Kitonga and edited by Dancun Mwanyumba – Advocate of the High Court before being adopted and presented to Hon. Emily Nyakundi, the then HOS for use.
The geographical location of the court attracts more locals who speak and understand Kidawida /Taita. Statistically, about 52% of the court users understand the language.
“It’s for this reason that the court translated the charter to meet the needs of the bigger population who are now able to understand court processes,” says the Judiciary.