The Judiciary of Kenya

The Judiciary is the arm of government that mainly centers on the Kenyan Judicial system.

The Kenyan Judicial system adheres to a hierarchical system, with The Supreme Court being the highest organ, followed by the Court of Appeal, High Court, Magistrate’s Courts and other Subordinate Courts.

The chief justice is the president of the judiciary and is appointed by the president subject to the approval of the National Assembly.

The Supreme Court, being the highest judicial organ, has the following key functions:

  • Mandated to hear and determine presidential election disputes, if they occur.
  • Attend to the appeals arising from the Court of Appeal.

The high Court, on the other hand, attends to criminal and civil cases as well as supervising the administration of justice in other lower ranking courts.

The Magistrate’s courts as reconstituted under article 169 of the constitution of Kenya 2010 falls under Subordinate Courts and deals with criminal and civil matters within their ranks and jurisdictions. The pecking order of the Magistrates’ courts from top to bottom is as follows: Chief magistrates’ courts, Principal magistrates’ courts, Resident magistrates’ courts and District magistrate’s courts.

The Kadhis’ courts on the other hand as reconstituted under article 170 of the constitution of Kenya have their jurisdiction limited to determining matters arising in the Muslim law regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance and personal status. Kadhi courts solely center on citizens who willingly submit to Islam faith and the Kadhi court system.

Mission of the Judiciary

To deliver justice fairly, impartially and expeditiously, promote equal access to justice, and advance local jurispudence by upholding the rule of law

Mandate of the Judiciary

The Judiciary derives its mandate from the Constitution of Kenya, Article 159 provides that:

1)      Judicial authority is derived from the people and vests in, and shall be exercised by, the courts and tribunals established by or under this Constitution.

2)      In exercising judicial authority, the courts and tribunals shall be guided by the following principles-

  • justice shall be done to all, irrespective of status;
  • justice shall not be delayed;
  • alternative forms of dispute resolution including reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms shall be promoted, subject to clause(3)
  • justice shall be administered without undue regard to procedural technicalities; and
  • the purpose and principles of this Constitution shall be protected and promoted.

3)      Traditional dispute resolution mechanisms shall not be used in a way that-

  • contravenes the Bill of Rights;
  • is repugnant to justice and morality or results in outcomes that are repugnant to justice or morality; or
  • Is inconsistent with this Constitution or any written law.

The Judiciary has developed a Judiciary Transformation Framework that has placed it on the path of institutional transformation. The Framework is currently at the validation stage.

The Judiciary has been summarized to include

Judicial reforms in Kenya
Kenya Courts of Judicature
Judicial Service Commission of Kenya