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Title: Impediments to access to justice in Magistrates’ Courts in Nairobi County, Kenya
Authors: Ouko, William
Keywords: Justice -- Magistrates’ Courts
Issue Date: May-2016
Publisher: Egerton University
Abstract: In Kenya, access to justice remains a mirage for many especially the poor, the minorities and the vulnerable. Despite this, there is scanty empirical data on factors that influence access to justice. It is this knowledge gap that this study sought to fill. The broad objective of this study was to establish factors that impede access to justice in the Magistrates’ courts within Nairobi. Specifically, it examined courts’ characteristics that impede access to justice, established how public perception of judicial processes impedes access to justice and how monetary cost of litigation impedes access to justice. This study was grounded on both the modernization and the New Public Management theories. It was as a descriptive survey that targeted parties to cases within selected magistrates’ courts, lawyers, police, professional prosecutors, court users’ committees, representatives of the Law Society of Kenya, Kituo Cha Sheria, the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Inspector General of Police. Purposive sampling was used in identifying the participating courts, while stratified random sampling and snowballing sampling techniques were employed to select the respondents. The sample size was 177 out which 152 responded. Questionnaires, oral interviews and Focus Group Discussions were used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) and presented using text, charts, graphs, and frequency and percentage tables. This study found that impediments include lack of provision for people with physical disabilities in the courts, few prosecutors and magistrates, adjournments that leads to cases’ delays, adversarial nature of court processes, low understanding of legal procedures and processes and low ICT usage. The public perceived judgments not to be fair or impartial, lacked confidence in the integrity of magistrates and court officials, and were ignorant of individual rights. On cost of litigation, impediments include lawyers’ fees that are considered high, unreasonable and off limits to litigants plus distances to nearest courts. This study recommends that more courts should be established, number of magistrates and prosecutors increased, structures for ADR established and legal aid and other interventions meant to allow low income persons gain access to court enhanced. This study suggests further research on the influence of legal aid on access to justice, effect of transfers of judicial officers on administration of justice in Kenya and the relationship between recent increase in the number of judicial officers and the persistent backlog of cases. This study has provided information beneficial to Kenyan law reforms’ implementers and stakeholders. Implementation of recommendations could lead to increased awareness of challenges that confront the Judiciary and insights into appropriate mechanisms of solving them.
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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