Kenyans seeking services in the Judiciary will now have to pay more than double for court cases in new changes in rates by the institution.
Chief Justice Martha Koome in a revised pricing schedule which went into effect on September 1, indicated a variety of additional expenditures, including payments for document lodging.
For instance, Kenyans filing any type of application at the High Court except on criminal matters will now have to part with KSh1,500 up from KSh750.
Registration of arbitration awards related to disputes at the Environment and Lands Court will now cost Kenyans KSh10,100, up from KSh2,250.
“The new fees will only make it difficult for many people to access Justice. The move is working against what we in the justice system have been fighting for all along — access to justice and expeditious disposal of cases,” said Bernhard Ng’etich, a Law Society of Kenya (LSK) council member.
The review of fees comes even as the Judiciary got a cut in it budget from KSh18.1 billion in the last financial year to KSh17.9 billion financial year 2021/2022.
The revised fees schedule raised court library membership and annual subscription from KSh500 to KSh1,000 and a KSh500 charge was introduced for notaries’ public annual renewal.
At the magistrate’s court, the fees for applications and affidavits have been retained at KSh1,000. The application fee for filing applications on criminal matters remains at Sh500 at the High Court and Sh485 at the lower court.
A fee of KSh450 has also been introduced in the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Division for filing a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeal.
CJ Koome has also introduced a fee of KSh1,500 for court collection fees on deposits and security for costs.
For commercial and tax cases filed at the High Court, the CJ has introduced a fee of Sh1,550 for any appeal or review from subordinate courts and tribunals. She has also introduced a fee of Sh100 for filing of response for income tax appeals – statement of facts.
Litigants filing cases in the High Court now face a new minimum fee of Sh2,000 for an unliquidated claim, originating summons, or counterclaim. Further court fees will be paid based on the amount awarded upon determination of the case.
In addition, a fee of KSh300 for filing a response to the bill of costs will be paid.
Fees for instituting a private prosecution at the High Court remain at Sh5,000 while those at the lower court have been set at Sh1,485.
The Judiciary also plans to hire more staff and automate its services as part of reforms to boost efficiency.
Last month Justice Koome said 50 magistrates will be hired this September in a bid to speed up the wheels of justice.
She said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will also make efforts to employ more judges, especially after six judges were recently elevated to the Court of Appeal. The CJ at the same time called on Kenyans to embrace alternative dispute resolution methods.
“We also need a multi-door approach like the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Annexed Mediation to offload cases from the courts,” Justice Koome said during a meeting with the principal and presiding judges of the High Court.