Judiciary hires 31 magistrates to ease courts backlog


The Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi: The Judiciary has been expanding its court stations and number of court rooms since 2012. PHOTO | FILE

The Judiciary has employed 31 new magistrates to make up for those who have been suspended, promoted or have left in a move that is also expected to ease the workload.

The new team includes five chief magistrates and 26 senior resident magistrates that are expected to start working in about one month.

The Judiciary has been expanding its court stations and courtrooms since 2012 which has seen it record shortages of both judges and magistrates.

Chief Registrar Anne Amadi said that even with the new recruitments, the Judiciary will still continue to experience the effects of a serious shortage of staff.

“Although the number of magistrates has risen from 316 in 2010 to 443 in 2016, 55 magistrates have left magistracy in the last three years,” Ms Amadi said.

“The reasons for the fall in numbers are related to the decisions of the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board (JMVB), promotions to judgeship, interdictions, dismissals, resignations and deaths,” she added.

Of the current 443 magistrates, 31 have pending appeals against the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board's (JMVB) decisions, while nine are on interdiction - meaning that the 40 cannot listen to cases.

The Judiciary last year advertised for 66 magistrate positions but only the 31 were qualified for appointment, raising questions on the available pool of legal talent that can be tapped for the bench.

“The deployment of the new magistrates is expected to occasion transfers of judicial officers to address case load. However, the Judiciary has taken steps to ensure there is minimum disruption of court operations,” Ms Amadi said.

She did not indicate if there would be a fresh recruitment round, only saying that they are looking to have 550 magistrates distributed among 116 court stations in all counties.