Brief History of the Establishment of NCAJ
Prior to the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya (2010), there was low public confidence in the institutions of the justice sector. The citizens felt that the services received from these institutions were sub- optimal, slow and inadequate, and that the administration of justice was not well coordinated. There was also weak inter-institutional communication which adversely affected the consumers of justice services. Also, the citizens considered the justice system institutions as inward-looking. Notably, there was less cooperation in the criminal justice system, characterised by weak investigations, failure to prosecute many crimes, and lengthy trials that adversely affected the observance of human rights and freedoms.
The first move toward a coordinated approach to the administration of justice began in 2005 when actors in the criminal justice system in Nakuru law courts began to engage regularly. The engagement arose from the need to address the recurrent operational and legal challenges that led to the massive dismissal of cases on technicalities and delays due to inefficiencies of players in the justice sector. There was low faith in the Judiciary and the police due to the lengthy trials and complicated judicial processes. The constellation of these challenges had yielded inadequate redress of disputes through Courts. Against this backdrop, in 2006, the leadership of the Nakuru Law Court at the time and the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) proposed establishing the Court User Committee (CUCs) as a forum to deliberate and resolve the challenges and frustrations that characterised the administration of justice. Therefore, it was felt that addressing the existing institutional inefficiencies and heightened public involvement in judicial processes would foster mutual understanding, participation, clarity, and timeliness in rendering judicial decisions.
In 2010, the Report of the Taskforce on Judicial Reforms, which was chaired by Honourable Justice William Ouko, a Supreme Court Judge at the time of writing this report, noted as follows:
… the administration of justice requires closer coordination between all the agencies involved in the justice system. This means that only comprehensive reforms can restore the integrity, efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of justice.
Consequently, the Taskforce recommended that a National Council on the Administration of Justice be established under the Judicial Service Bill to strengthen interagency coordination in the administration of justice. The Bill yielded the Judicial Service Act 2011, which legally anchored the coordination of the administration of justice under NCAJ.
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