Courts

ABOUT THE SUPREME COURT

 

History of the Supreme Court

The birth of the Supreme Court of Kenya, which is today the highest court in the land, can be traced to the controversial Presidential election in 2007. The Kreigler Commission which was established thereafter to look into the unprecedented electoral violence that occurred, as well as allegations of electoral irregularities, concluded that there were legitimate concerns relating to the Electoral Commission and the Judiciary which needed to be addressed. In particular was lack of faith and confidence in processes that arbitrated election outcomes: Kenyans made serious allegations against the Judiciary, including inefficiency, incompetence and corruption. It was fairly evident that the people had lost faith in the Judiciary’s ability to dispense justice fairly, impartially and without fear.

Kenyans also raised the concern about the generally restrictive approach to constitutional interpretation which the High Court had adopted, especially in the area of human rights litigation. Complaints were also raised about the lack of a right of appeal from a High Court decision on constitutional matters; this was seen as a denial of the right of appeal of the aggrieved party. Some High Court decisions were further criticized for being made against the public interest and being influenced by factors outside the law. The people were of the view that a Supreme Court should be created and that such a court should have power to issue Advisory Opinions.

As a result, the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which was popularly supported through a referendum, established the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land, a final arbiter on interpreting the Constitution; and with exclusive original jurisdiction in respect of presidential election petitions.

The Supreme Court on 23rd June, 2022, marked eleven (11) years since its operationalization by the Supreme Court Act, No. 7 of 2011.

 

Role of the Supreme Court

Section 3 of the Supreme Court Act, 2011 clearly delimits the objectives of the Supreme Court. It provides that

  1. The object of this Act is to make further provision with respect to the operation of the Supreme Court as a court of final judicial authority to, among other things—

(a) assert the supremacy of the Constitution and the sovereignty of the people of Kenya;

(b) provide authoritative and impartial interpretation of the Constitution;

(c) develop rich jurisprudence that respects Kenya’s history and traditions and facilitates its social, economic and political growth;

(d) enable important constitutional and other legal matters, including matters relating to the transition from the former to the present constitutional dispensation, to be determined having due regard to the circumstances, history and cultures of the people of Kenya;

(e) improve access to justice; and

(f) provide for the administration of the Supreme Court and related matters

 

Composition of the Court

The Court is established under Article 163 of the Constitution consisting of the Chief Justice, who is the President of the Court; the Deputy Chief Justice, who is the Deputy President of the Court; and five other Justices of the Supreme Court. 

 

The Seat of The Court

The seat of the Supreme Court of Kenya is in the Supreme Court Building in Nairobi. The physical location is at the intersection of Taifa Road and City Hall Way, next to the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

 

History of the Supreme Court Building

The Supreme Court Building is a classic example of colonial administration architecture. The building was designed in 1929 by Sir Herbert Baker in a neo classical style. The foundation stone was laid by Sir Edward Grigg, Governor of Kenya colony on 7th July 1930 and was built in 1931. It has played host to many high-profile visitors including Hilary Clinton, who visited in 2012 as Secretary of State, and H.E Kofi Annan, who visited several times.

Outside the main public entrance is the “Hamilton Fountain”, which is a bronze statue of a blind naked boy holding a large fish. The statue was put up during the reign of Sir Robert Brooke, a Kenyan British colonial government governor in honour of lawyer Alexander George Hamilton, a man who stood for justice and died in 1937.

The statue, which was commissioned by the lawyer’s wife, Gertrude Hamilton, is meant to portray justice as blind, naked and slippery and at the same time as fearless as a boy.

The building’s usage has changed over time. It originally housed the Provincial Headquarters, offices of; the Inland Revenue, Chief Justice, Registrar, East African Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Court rooms and Magistrates’ chambers occupied the ground floor. The basement had police and prison cells to hold offenders before they appeared for their hearings.

After independence, the Provincial Headquarters and the Inland Revenue Office were moved to the Old Jogoo House. The building was then renamed “The High Court”. Currently, it houses the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and administrative offices.

The building is a national heritage by virtue of its rich history and architecture. On 1st December, 1995 it was classified as a national monument under the Antiquities and Monuments Act. The basement containing the police cells was renovated and now houses the Judiciary Museum, which is open to the public.

 

Supreme Court jurisdiction

The Supreme Court jurisdiction is set out under Articles 58(5), 163(3), (4), (5) &(6), 168(8) of the Constitution and Sections 12, 13, 15, 29 and 40 of the Supreme Court Act No. 7 of 2011 Laws of Kenya, as follows, to:-

  1. Exclusively hear and determine disputes relating to the Presidential elections.
  2. Hear and determine appeals from the Court of Appeal:
  3. as of right where the case involves interpretation or application of the Constitution.
  4. where the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal certifies that a matter of general public importance is involved. A certification by the Court of Appeal may be reviewed by the Supreme Court and either affirmed, varied or overturned.
  5. Hear and determine Appeals from any other court or tribunal, as prescribed by national legislation.
  6. Render advisory opinion at the request of the National Government, any State organ, or any County Government, with respect to any matter concerning County Government.
  7. Determine the validity of :-
  8. a declaration of a state of emergency;
  9. an extension of such declaration and
  10. any legislation enacted or action taken in consequence of a declaration of a state of emergency.
  11. Hear and determine appeals against a tribunal’s recommendation to remove a Judge.

 

 

Hon. Justice Martha Koome, EGH

The Hon. Chief Justice Martha K. Koome, EGH The Hon. Chief Justice Martha K. Koome, assumed office on 21st May, 2021 as the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme

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Hon. Lady Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu

The Hon. Lady Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu, MGH, The Hon. Lady Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu, was appointed on 28th October 2016 as the 3rd Deputy Chief Justice and Vice President

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Justice Mohammed K. Ibrahim

Hon. Justice Mohammed Ibrahim, CBS, SCJ Hon. Mr. Justice Mohammed Ibrahim was appointed a Judge of the inaugural Supreme Court of Kenya on 16th June, 2011 after an open and

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Justice Dr. Smokin Wanjala

  Hon. Justice (Dr.) Smokin Wanjala, CBS, SCJ Justice Wanjala is a Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya having been appointed in 2011.  Between 2011 and 2016, he was

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Hon. Justice Njoki Susanna Ndungu

Hon Lady Justice Njoki Ndungu, CBS, SCJ Hon Lady Justice Njoki Ndungu is a Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya. She is an Advocate of the High Court of

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Hon. Justice Isaac Lenaola

Hon. Justice Isaac Lenaola, CBS, SCJ Hon. Justice Isaac Lenaola is an alumnus of the University of Nairobi and the Kenya School of Law. After admission to the bar, he practiced

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Hon. Justice William Ouko.

Hon. Justice William Ouko, CBS, SCJ Hon. Justice Ouko has a wealth of experience in judicial and administrative service spanning over 34 years. He holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree

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          Supreme Court Registry

          The Supreme Court Registry is where all pleadings, supporting documents and all orders and decisions of the Court are recorded and maintainedThe main Registry is located in the Supreme Court Building while two Sub-Registries were established in Mombasa and Kisumu on 24th February, 2022.

          The Supreme Court registry’s official working hours are 8.30a.m to 5.00p.m. The registry is open from Monday to Friday, except on public holidays or as otherwise directed from time to time by the Chief Justice.

           

          Court Sessions

          The Court has three (3) sittings a year

          • From 14th January to second Wednesday before Good Friday
          • From the first Wednesday after Easter to 31st July
          • From 16th September to 20th December

           

          The Language of the Court is English. If a party intends to address the Court in any language other than English, they are to give the Registrar a seven (7) day notice before the hearing date.

           

          Administration of the Registry

          Registry Officials

          1. a) Registrar – responsible for establishment and maintenance of the registry, management and supervision of the staff, and the day to day administration of the Court.
          2. b) Deputy Registrar – responsible for all the administrative services in the registry, library services, case management, and execution of court decisions. The Deputy Registrar oversees the allocation and performance of duties by all staff.
          3. c) Court Administrator – responsible for the daily operations of the registry.
          4. d) Court Executive Assistant – deputises the court administrator.
          5. e) Court Assistants – responsible for interpretation, transmission and return of files to and from the registry, and preparation of summaries and returns.
          6. f) Court Registry Assistant – responsible for registration of cases, filings, custody of file, retrieval of files, assessment of court fees, preparation of cause list, maintenance of registers and customer service.
          7. g) Records Management Officer/Archivist – responsible for maintaining proper filing, safety and custody of records.
          8. h) Court Process Server – responsible for serving all court processes.
          9. i) Office Administrative Assistant – responsible for typing of notices, orders and proceedings.
          10. j) Office Assistant – responsible for hospitality, cleaning, mail and general duties in the registry.
          11. k) Accountant – responsible for cash transactions and management of finances.
          12. l) Information Communication Technology (ICT) Officer –

          responsible for maintaining electronic records, offering IC support services and audio-visual recording of court.

           

           

           

          CASE MANAGEMENT IN THE SUPREME COURT

          Guidelines for filing of documents

          Pleadings and any other document filed in the Court shall be in both printed and electronic form. Documents prepared for use in Court must conform to the Supreme Court (General) Practice Directions, 2020.

          E- Filing

          The Court has adopted electronic filing of cases to improve operational efficiency in filing of cases and payment of court fees.

          For a document to be deemed as duly filed it has to be in both electronic and printed form. A party filing any document shall ensure consistency in the printed and the electronic formats. In case of any inconsistency between the hard copy and soft copy, the hard copy prevails.

          The guidelines of E-filing are contained in the Electronic Case Management Practice Directions, 2020.

           

          Appeals

          A Notice of Appeal should be filed within 14 days from the date of judgment or ruling which is the subject of appeal. The notice of appeal should be filed in the first instance with the Registrar of the court, or with the Tribunal from which an appeal originates, the petitioner then transmits a copy of the notice to the Registrar.

          The notice of appeal should be served upon the all the directly affected parties within 7 days of filing.

          An appeal to the Court shall be instituted within 30 days of filing the notice of appeal where the appeal is as of right; or 30 days after the grant of certification, where such certification is required.

          A respondent shall file grounds of objection, an affidavit, or both, within 14 days of service of the petition. The petitioner shall file and serve a rejoinder within seven days of being served with the response. Pleadings close 7 days after the lapse of time for the filing of a rejoinder.

          In the event of any delay, the Court may extend the time limited by the Rules.

          A respondent who intends to cross-appeal shall specify the grounds of contention, and the nature of the relief that the respondent seeks from the Court.

          A respondent who contends on an appeal that a decision of a court or tribunal should be affirmed on grounds other than, or additional to those relied upon by the court, shall give notice specifying the grounds of the contention.

           

           

          Interlocutory Applications

          All interlocutory applications are by way of a Notice of Motion and are determined by way of written submissions. An interlocutory application shall not be originated before a petition of appeal or a reference is filed with the Court. Applications together with written submissions shall be served within 7 days of filing and responses filed thereafter within 7 days of service. The applicant, upon service of the response, shall file a rejoinder which may include supplementary submissions within 7 days thereof.

           

           

          Case Management

          In order to enhance efficiency in the dispensations of justice, the Court has implemented case management practices to avoid unnecessary applications and adjournments.

          The court lists all pending matters before the Registrar or the Deputy Registrar for a case management conference. During this conference, directions and timelines on filing submissions are given. Once the Registrar is satisfied that the parties have complied with the directions, the matter is certified as ready for hearing and a hearing date is issued.

           

          Conduct of Proceedings

          Hearings are conducted in open court or in chambers as the Court may direct. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic the Court has embraced virtual hearings and case management.

          During the hearing, the Court may prescribe the time allowed for making oral presentations, address by the parties, their advocates or other recognized representatives. The Court may call or admit additional evidence in any proceedings.

          At the close of the proceedings, the Court delivers a Ruling, Judgment or Advisory opinion within 90 days from the date hearing. The Court may issue its decision, while reserving the reasons for such decision to a later date.

          Click on the link below for the steps in filing a case

          STEPS IN FILING A CASE

          Click on the link below to download the Service Delivery Charter

          SERVICE DELIVERY CHARTER BROCHURE

          Sponsored sustained attack on the Supreme Court on Social Media

          The Judiciary’s attention has been drawn to a recent wave of sponsored sustained attack targeting the Supreme Court of Kenya. The Supreme Court, was established under Article 163(1) of the

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          Supreme Court Judges

          Judges of the Supreme Court before rendering the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition 2022.    Related Posts:Supreme Court Judges to take pay cut to mitigate the effects…Invitation to Submit

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          The Supreme Court holds Pre-Trial Conference

          The Supreme Court holds Pre-Trial Conference ahead of 2022 presidential election petition hearing.                 Related Posts:Kenya to host Pan-African conference of Chief JusticesSupreme

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          Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi briefs media on preparations for Supreme Court hearing of the 2022 presidential election petition in Nairobi

          The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi, when she briefed media on the preparations in place for Supreme Court hearing which kicked off 0n August 30, with Pre-Trial Conference. 

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          Supreme Court opens sub-registries in Mombasa and Kisumu

          NAIROBI, June 29, 2022. OPERATIONALIZATION OF SUPREME COURT OF KENYA SUB- REGISTRIES IN MOMBASA AND KISUMU Under the said Strategic Plan, a Key Result Area is that of enhancing access to

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          Supreme Court Judges are trained on Election Disputes Resolution Preparedness ahead of August General Elections

          A  3-day Election Dispute Resolution (EDR) training for Supreme Court judges. The training was  conducted by the Judiciary Committee on Elections (JCE) in conjunction with Kenya Judiciary Academy (KJA).   

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          Supreme Court renders its verdict on BBI

          Supreme Court judges delivered their verdict on the seven issues.     Related Posts:Supreme Court Judges to take pay cut to mitigate the effects…High Court Judge Roselyne Aburili receives LSK

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          Supreme Court BBI hearing ends

          The hearing of the BBI case at Supreme Court in Nairobi that kicked-off on Tuesday 18, ended today. The 7-judge bench that heard the case comprised of Justices Martha Koome

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          Building Bridges Initiative hearing kicks off at the Supreme Court in Nairobi

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          New CJ Koome and newly sworn in Supreme Court Judge received

          Lady Justice Martha Koome, after she took her Oath of Office as the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya, proceed to her new office at Supreme Court where she

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          THE OFFICE OF THE REGISTRAR, SUPREME COURT

          Supreme Court Building
          City Hall Way, Nairobi
          P.O. Box 30041 – 00100, Nairobi
          Tel.  0730 181600/700/800,
          registrarsupremecourt@court.go.ke

          rsupreme2018@gmail.com
          www.judiciary.go.ke

           

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