Today’s Pandemic Court

The delivery of justice just like every other sector in our economy has greatly been impacted by
covid-19 pandemic. There have been numerous outcries by litigants over bad internet connectivity
and ignorance of proper use of digital space in the delivery of justice.
There are few litigants who have had proper training on the acquisition of court links from Kenya law
reports website. There others who cannot access internet let alone proper use of it to access courts.
The Internet is expensive. There are litigants who have been logged out of court sessions due to
insufficient bundles. The nature of our court proceedings commences by courts’ going through their
cause lists. They would then dispense off matters that are listed for mentions then proceed to allocate
time for hearings. This is not a one minute task and therefore demands that litigants have stable
internet and sufficient bundles to stay on through the courts session. These are costs passed to litigants
just to access justice at a time when they are not making much income for their own basic needs.
There is Poor etiquette while in virtual courts sessions by litigants. There are litigants who forget to
mute their mics and therefore interfere with court sessions. There instances where courts have stopped
just to bring order in their sessions. The other day I was witness to a litigant who was busy in animal
auction while logged in a court session. All we could here were bleats and moos of goats and cows. This
wastes time.
There are court officers who ignore emails from litigants. These emails could be return of documents to
court or inquiries that would ensure court’s session flow smoothly. They never give explanations or
assistance. It is a habit that stalls virtual sessions as often the bench would request these officials to
extract these emails. This in turn delays delivery of justice as litigants have to take other dates to
confirm that the said officials did as instructed by courts.
Our laws too are act as bottle necks to proper use of the digital space to deliver justice, for instance
The other week I attended a virtual court session where a complainant wished to withdraw her
complaint against an accused person. The complainant had logged into the virtual session with her
initials of her name as her identity. She was audible but her device could not pick her images. The
Investigating officer could therefore not identify the said complainant. Your guess is good! The matter
could not proceed and therefore a new date was issued. There are many examples where our laws
demand physical appearance of persons in court. This ordinarily stalls delivery of justice at this
challenging time.
There is a luster of hope. The fact that we use the internet to deliver justice today gives us hope that
these challenges shall have solutions. The pandemic shall stay with us for sometime but our innovative
solutions shall ensure that justice continue to be our shield and defender.

Author:Chesoli D Achebayi-Advocate of the High court of Kenya

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