Economy

Cases in small claim courts to conclude in two months

Kimunya

National Assembly Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Small Claims Court — which handles cases valued at no more than Sh200,000 — is a product of the reforms that the Judiciary has implemented in recent years to cut backlog.
  • The State wants the National Assembly to approve the Business Laws (Amendment)(No 2)Bill 2020 that seeks to make several amendments to various statutes to facilitate the ease of doing business in Kenya.
  • The Bill, sponsored by Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya proposes to amend the Small Claim Courts Act, 2016 to make provision to fast track procedure for small claims by providing a sixty-day timeline for adjudication of small claims.

The determination of cases involving small claims will take a maximum of two months if MPs approve changes to the Small Claims Court Act, 2016.

Small Claims Court — which handles cases valued at no more than Sh200,000 — is a product of the reforms that the Judiciary has implemented in recent years to cut backlog.

The State wants the National Assembly to approve the Business Laws (Amendment)(No 2)Bill 2020 that seeks to make several amendments to various statutes to facilitate the ease of doing business in Kenya.

The Bill, sponsored by Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya proposes to amend the Small Claim Courts Act, 2016 to make provision to fast track procedure for small claims by providing a sixty-day timeline for adjudication of small claims.

“Section 34 of the Small Claims Court Act is amended in subsection (2) by inserting the words “of matter which shall be within sixty days from the date of lodging" immediately after the word determination.”

The court has jurisdiction to determine any civil claim relating to a contract for sale and supply of goods or services, a contract relating to money held and received, liability in offence in respect of loss or damage caused to any property or for the delivery or recovery of movable property, compensation for personal injuries and set-off and counterclaim under any contract.

The Small Claims Court may also exercise any other civil jurisdiction as may be conferred under any other written law.

“Without prejudice to subsection (3), the Chief Justice may determine by notice in the gazette such other pecuniary jurisdiction of the court as the Chief Justice thinks fit,” the Act states.

Lawyers have been pushing amendments to the Act to lift restrictions that have locked out advocates.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) wants Section 20(2) of the Small Claims Court Act, 2016, amended through the Small Claims Court (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to allow legal practitioners to represent parties.

“A party to the proceedings shall appear in person or where he or she is unable to appear in person, be represented by a duly authorised representative. The representative referred to in subsection (1) shall not be a legal practitioner,” Section 20(2) of the Act states.