David Maraga, the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, has announced that from 1 July 2020 all legal cases in Nairobi Courts will be required to file electronically. In a letter published on 16 June 2020, it is stated that the Law Society of Kenya members, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Police and the public will be required to register on the Judiciary's Electronic Filing System to be able to upload the required legal documents, and assess court fees.
The adoption of the e-filing system can be seen as fast-tracking Kenya's Judiciary's efforts for efficiency by using digital technology solutions. It is also hoped that the adoption of the system will reduce the amount of corruption associated with the manual filing of legal documents as they should now be able to track all cases and documents submitted electronically.
"Any computer or devise that allows attachment of files will be sufficient to access the system and carry out the e-filing. The system is already open for use and the public is encouraged to familiarise themselves with it prior to the official launch."
Improving efficiency of the legal system
The legal profession and justice system in Kenya and across Africa can be said to have been slow in the adoption of digital technology solutions. However, this is to a certain extent understandable considering that such solutions would need to have stringent security measures to ensure the authenticity of all documents and information captured on them.
This security concern is emphasized especially when you consider that currently, with the manual paper-based processes, dockets, and evidence still somehow manage to disappear.
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Among other considerations when adopting digital technology solutions in the justice system is that of being able to prove that the documents and information submitted on such a system have been preserved as they were originally received or produced.
COVID-19 fast-tracking adoption of digital solutions by the judiciary
Another reason why Kenya's Judiciary has announced this significant change for Nairobi Courts could be attributed to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Without being able to meet and conduct and hear cases in person, other measures are necessary to ensure that justice is still exercised.
This is also why during April 2020 Kenya's Judiciary started using video conferencing solutions such as Skype and e-mail to deliver pending judgments.
"This is a key part of the Judiciary’s efforts to increase use of technology in all its functions and achieve higher levels of efficiency and convenience to our stakeholders. The courts are also already increasingly using ICT platforms to conduct hearings and deliver judgements and rulings. Other forthcoming initiatives include the launch of a Court Recording and Transcription System, initially in 32 coustrooms around the country. The Chief Justice will officially launch the e-filing initiative at the beginning of July."
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