Characteristics of Magistrates’ Courts that Impede Access to Justice within Nairobi County

William Ouko, Kibet A. Ng’etich, Hadija Murenga


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 in Kenya. 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 and their implications on access to justice. The study was grounded on modernization theory and the New Public Management theory. It was designed as a descriptive survey and targeted the parties to cases within selected magistrates’ courts, the lawyers, police and professional prosecutors, the 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 of the target sample, 152 responded meaning the response rate was 86%. Questionnaires, oral interviews and Focused Group Discussions were used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) and presented using text, charts, graphs, and frequency and percentage tables. The study found that the court did not have provision for people with physical disabilities, prosecutors and magistrates were few while adjournments contributed to case delays. The adversarial nature of court processes was seen as an impediment, low understanding of legal procedures and processes as well as low ICT usage were also identified as impediments to access to justice.

Keywords: Access to Justice, Court Characteristics, Physical Location, ICT, Alternate and Traditional Dispute Resolution, robes and wigs, specialized and Small claims courts

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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