EDUCATION 101: The Kenyan Legal System

Principles of Law



The judiciary in Kenya which includes the High court, The court of Appeal,  the Supreme court and other subordinate courts is established by the constitution of Kenya.

The courts deal with the interpretation of statutes and settlement of disputes between parties.

These courts form what is known as the Kenyan Legal System.

The Kenyan Courts are set up to ensure proper administration of justice; Administration of justice means enforcement of law by the courts. It is an important element in every society.

Kenya has unique court structure which operates at different levels. At each level, the courts have powers to hear and determine cases. This power of the courts to hear and determine cases brought before it is known as the Jurisdiction of the court.

The Jurisdiction of the court may be original or appellate or both. Original Jurisdiction means powers of a court to determine cases brought before it for the first time. Appellate Jurisdiction refers to the powers of the court to deal with cases brought before it on Appeal.

Some courts may only have original jurisdiction while others exercise both original and appellate Jurisdiction such as the Kenyan District magistrate court of 3rd class only have original Jurisdiction while the high court exercise both original and appellate .

The Jurisdiction of the court may also be Territorial in Nature that is limited to a certain Geographical Area. It may also be pecuniary (financial) That is limited to certain financial amounts in civil cases.

It is important to note that under the new constitution, the Supreme Court is the highest court in Kenya followed by court of Appeal.

The high court is the third highest court and below it are the resident magistrate courts occupied by; The chief magistrate, principal magistrate, Resident magistrate, Senior resident magistrate and senior Principle Magistrate.

At the bottom of the court structure are the District magistrate courts of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd class. There are also the Kadhi courts and Court Martial.



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