The Environment and Land Court (ELC) will get half of the latest judge recruits as the Judiciary moves to address staffing shortages and reduce the pile-up of pending cases.
Twenty of the 41 judges marked for recruitment will be posted to the ELC while the Court of Appeal and the Employment and Labour Court will get 11 and 10 new judges, respectively.
The new hiring will see the number of judges at the ELC rise by 60.6 percent to 53. The court had 33 judges at the end of June 2018.
The ELC, which enjoys the same status as the High Court, has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes relating to land administration and management. It is among the busiest courts in the country.
During the financial year 2017/18, a total of 5,834 cases were filed in all ELC stations.
The Milimani ELC had the highest number of both filed and resolved cases. Overall, ELC registered a case clearance rate of 135 percent.
An annual review report by the Judiciary for 2017/18 however showed that the Environment and Land Court is among the worst hit by pending cases—leaving litigants disadvantaged by lengthy and costly court proceedings.
As at end of June last year, 327,928 cases were pending across different courts in Kenya with 167,166 cases aged above three years.
Of these, 2.8 percent were from ELC.
Magistrate Courts topped with 74 per cent followed by 18 percent in High Court.
Pending cases refer to unresolved cases or cases where the final judicial decision has not been made at the end of a given period.
Delayed hearing and determination of cases not only delays justice to the aggrieved parties but also means higher spending on legal expertise.
Lawyers usually charge fees based on among other things, the number of appearances made in the court on behalf of their clients.
Chief Justice David Maraga said in the Judiciary performance report that case backlog continues to be “one of the major challenges” facing the Judiciary.