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October 19, 2018

Shortage of Land court judges hurts service delivery - Maraga

Chief Justice David Maraga with Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga on October 11, 2018. / JUDICIARY
Chief Justice David Maraga with Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga on October 11, 2018. / JUDICIARY

Kenya has a critical shortage of Environment and Land Court Judges, resulting in a significant clog-up in the processing of land cases in many parts of the country, CJ David Maraga has said.

This is worsened by the fact that close to 80 per cent of civil litigation involves land and succession issues.

He said the requirement by the 2010 Constitution for the creation of specialised courts had made the situation worse because High Court judges cannot be assigned Land and Environment duties.

“This is one of the issues Kenyans should reconsider should the opportunity to review the Constitution arise. While I respect the spirit of the Constitution that created these special courts, the reality on the ground is that this is impeding service delivery because other High Court judges cannot hear land matters and yet these constitute the majority of litigation,” he said when he paid a courtesy on Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga.

The CJ said he encounters endless requests for more ELC judges whenever he meets court users across the country.

"I have occasionally been told ‘thank you for bringing us a judge, but please take him away until you find one who can hear land matters."

In a subsequent meeting with members of the Law Society of Kenya, Maraga said ideally, every county should have two ELC judges.

"To alleviate the situation, some magistrates have been gazetted to hear land and environment matters up to a threshold of Sh5 million. However, this is still not meeting the demand," he said.

Tomorrow the CJ expected to lay the foundation stone for the Ol Kalou High Court in Nyandarua County on Friday.

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