THE Judiciary

About the Judiciary

The Judiciary is one of the three State organs established under Chapter 10, Article 159 of the Constitution of Kenya. It establishes the Judiciary as an independent custodian of justice in Kenya. Its primary role is to exercise judicial authority given to it, by the people of Kenya. 

The institution is mandated to deliver justice in line with the Constitution and other laws. It is expected to resolve disputes in a just manner with a view to protecting the rights and liberties of all, thereby facilitating the attainment of the ideal rule of law.

The Judiciary and its related institutions (Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Kenya Law; previously National Council for Law Reporting (NCLR), Tribunals and the Judiciary Training Institute (JTI) perform the following functions;

1. Administration of justice

2. Formulation and implementation of judicial policies

3. Compilation and dissemination of case law and other legal information for the effective administration of justice

The judicial system in Kenya is defined by 15 articles spanning from Article 159 (judicial authority) to article 173 (Judiciary Fund) contained in the new constitution of Kenya.

In Kenya, the courts under the Constitution operate at two levels, namely; Superior and Subordinate courts.

The Court system has been decentralized with the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal having their own Presidents and the High Court having a Principal Judge as heads of the respective institutions.

The Supreme Court of Kenya is established under Article 163 of the Constitution of Kenya. It comprises of Seven judges: the Chief Justice, who is the president of the Court, the Deputy Chief Justice, who is the deputy to the Chief Justice and the vice-president of the Supreme Court and five other judges.

The Court of Appeal is established under Article 164 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

The High Court is established under Article 165 and it consists of a number of judges to be prescribed by an Act of Parliament. The Court is organized and administered in the manner prescribed by an Act of Parliament. The Court has a Principal Judge, who is elected by the judges of the High Court from among themselves.

The High Court has also been restructured into four divisions:  Division of Land and Environment; Division of Judicial Review; Division of Commercial and Admiralty; and, Constitution and Human Rights Division.

The subordinate courts are established under Article 169. They consist of the Magistrates’ Courts, Kadhis Courts, Court Martial, and any other court or local Tribunal established by an Act of Parliament. 

Our Mission

To administer justice in a fair, timely, accountable and accessible manner, uphold the rule of law, advance indigenous jurisprudence and protect the Constitution.

Our Vision
An independent institution of excellence in the delivery of justice to all.


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.

  1. 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;


The first court in British East Africa was established by the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1890 with A.C.W Jenner as its first judge.

In 1895, the East Africa Protectorate was established with Consular court to serve British and other foreign persons. However a court with jurisdiction over all persons in the territory was first established in 1897 -- Her Majesty’s court of East Africa, which was later renamed ‘the High Court of East Africa’.

The Kenya’s Judiciary has roots in the East African Order in Council of 1897 and the Crown regulations. The Kenyan legal system was shaped by English legal system occasioned by the British administration that lasted over six decades where judges and the bar, were exclusively European.

About Courts

The courts have power to hear and determine disputes, primarily of criminal and civil nature. Criminal cases are those in which the State prosecutes a person or an organization for committing an act which is not in the interest of the public, and therefore considered to be an offence against the State.

Civil cases originate from a person who seeks redress for a private wrong such as breach of contract, trespass, or negligence; or to enforce civil remedies such as compensation, damages or to stop some action.

Judiciary Transformation Framework

The Judiciary developed a Judiciary Transformation Framework that has placed it on the path of institutional transformation. Popularly know as JTF, the 2012-2016 plan is the Judiciary’s strategic reform blueprint launched in May, 2012. It is anchored on four pillars, namely;

  • People-focused delivery of justice

  • Transformative leadership, organizational culture and professional staff

  • Adequate financial resources and physical infrastructure

  • Harnessing Technology as an enabler for justice
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