The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) is now threatening to boycott the courts after Chief Justice Martha Koome issued a directive to allow litigants to file their cases at Huduma Centres across the country without visiting court registries. In a strongly worded statement, LSK President Erick Theuri raised serious questions over the issue arguing that it exposed petitioners to potential fraud.
Legal practitioners in the country have now tasked the parent organisation to petition the Chief Justice to halt the program, until a proper framework that addressed their concerns was established. The lawyers have since threatened to stage demonstrations over the issue, taking great exception to the move by the CJ to roll-out the initiative on a pilot basis without involving the LSK.
The decision by the Chief Justice comes almost a fortnight after the closed door meeting with President William Ruto which opposition leader Raila Odinga termed as a deliberate attempt by both offices to undermine the Judiciary. Lead counsel Cathrine Kamende shared the same sentiments in her submissions to the courts arguing that the initiative further infringed on Kenyans constitutional rights to seek justice.
Kamende who is also contesting for the Presidency at the LSK postulated that the program presented an opportunity to individuals and quacks masquerading as lawyers to undermine the profession and illegally provide litigation services to the public. ” It is in the best intrest of justice that the orders sought herein are temporarily granted pending the hearing and determination of this application and subsequently the petition to avert any unprecedented violation of the constitution with far reaching consequences,” she said.
The judiciary through its official communique had slated the program to begin on January 29. The implementation of the initiative sought to provide judicial services to the public, allowing petitioners to file new cases, present corresponding documentation, cater to the issuance of summons to appear, the issuance of summons to divorce cases, extraction of court orders and decrees as well as provide access to rulings and judgements.