Chief Justice Martha Koome on Monday, February 27 presided over the launch of the Small Claims Court in Meru county.
Accompanied by Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza, Woman Representative Karambu Kailemia, Speaker Ayub Bundi, and other Members of the Meru County Assembly (MCAs), Koome launched the court that concluded the first phase of the process.
During this phase, a total of 12 courts were rolled out in the counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Machakos, Nyeri, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu, and Mombasa.
As the first phase of the process comes to a conclusion, Kenyans.co.ke explored some of the benefits that the Small Claims Courts provide:
Imagine if a social media influencer got a gig worth Ksh50,000 but after finishing the gig, the company refuses to pay up. Where can the influencer get justice in a timely manner?
This is the problem that the Small Claims Court came to solve considering that normal litigation is usually time-consuming, expensive, complex, and holds up money that would otherwise have been beneficial to the litigant.
Cash flow problems faced by individuals and businesses are partly caused by unpaid debts that are not worth following up through the tedious justice system in Kenya.
However, the Small Claims Courts established by the Small Claims Act 2016 provided a remedy for individuals to find justice regardless of how small the amount owed is.
Its inception made it easier for businesses and individuals to recover debts of less than Ksh1 million.
The Court is presided over by an Adjudicator who is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya with at least 3 years of experience.
Prior to the enactment of the Small Claims Act 2016, creditors had two options of recovering their debt; arbitration if there was an arbitration clause in the contract or litigation.
The Small Claims Act 2016 created a third option which now made it easier for individuals and businesses to recover debts of less than Ksh1 million.
Key benefits include:
It is quick.
Small Claims Courts aim to conclude a matter within 60 days. Adjournment of hearings can only be for unforeseen circumstances and are limited to a maximum of 3 adjournments.
One is only required to have a valid contract. This eases dispute resolution for individuals and businesses, especially those in the MSME sector.
Parties in a dispute can represent themselves. One does not need to be an advocate of the High Court of Kenya to appear before the Small Claims Court.
Parties can also be represented by other people who are not advocates.
Unlike in other courts where technical procedures matter, procedures in small claim courts are flexible.
In other courts, cases can be lost on technical grounds because the rules of procedure are so strict.