The advent of digital technology offers enormous potential to broaden access to justice. The Judiciary has been proactive in embracing technology in its justice system. The application of technology in the justice sector, including virtual courts, e-filing systems, and case tracking system has been transformative.
E-filing is another game-changing innovation in Kenya’s justice sector. The digitization of court records and processes not only reduces the time taken to file and process cases but also increases transparency. Moreover, it facilitates the tracking of case progress, helping to mitigate the backlog of cases that often hampers the swift dispensation of justice.
Tracing the journey of e-filling in the Kenyan judiciary starts with the launch of e-filling in Nairobi in June 2020 after many previous false starts and initiatives that did not pick up. Since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen impressive strides with respect in the successful uptake, and operation of e-filing in Nairobi County and its environs. Subsequently during the 2022 election cycle, the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal (PPDT) and the Election Courts also had election petitions filed electronically throughout the country.
Beginning with the roll out of e-filling in Mombasa county in April 2023, the Judiciary has embarked on initiative on rolling out e-filling country-wide with the goal of having all court stations on-boarded to e-filling by February 2024.
The interoperability of systems between justice sector institutions has also contributed to efficiency and access to justice. For instance, the Judiciary has already integrated its CTS system with the Uadilifu system of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. There are ongoing initiatives under the NCAJ Steering Committee on ICT to extend this initiative to other justice sector agencies including prisons and the police. This initiative aims at promoting efficiency in the justice system.
The other aspect of technology that is driving our quest for excellence is the Case Tracking System (CTS). The CTS enables us to track the entire details of a case from initiation to disposition. The CTS has automated registry operations that includes processes like case registration, fee assessment, cause list preparation, court orders generation and performance reports. The CTS has been progressively rolled out and operationalized across all courts and tribunals. A total of 2,133,675 cases had been captured, as at the end of the last Financial year, with 93 per cent of all court stations utilizing this system.
The CTS has had a tremendous impact on the management of court processes at the registries. It has enabled the tracking and managing court cases in real time including file perusal, assessment and payment of court fees. It has also enabled the decongestion of court registries as most services are accessed online.