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Chief Justice David Maraga’s Key Note Address at the Official Launch of the Kenya Law Strategic Plan 2018-2022

Key Note Address

The Hon. Justice D. K Maraga, EGH

Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Nairobi,

29th August 2019

 

Honorable Council members;

The Honorable Judges of the Court of Appeal and High Court present;

Honored guests;

Development partners;

Kenya Law Staff;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

It gives me great pleasure to launch the Kenya Law Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022. Today we are celebrating not only our accomplishments in the last five (5) years and their impact in promoting access to public legal information, but also our aspirations for the next five (5) years. Indeed, the past five years have seen significant changes to Kenya’s governance and legal frameworks which have completely transformed the obligations of public institutions to the citizens particularly with regard to the right of access to information.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we reflect on the past strategic periods, I would like us to briefly recall where we have come from – from the first law reports that were published in 1897 for the east African protectorate; to the revival of the Kenya Law Reports series in 1976; to the enactment of the National Council for Law Reporting Act in 1994; and most importantly for all of us here, to the actual establishment of this organization in the year 2001.

Kenya Law provides its distinctive services to the public as the official law reporter in Kenya. It is the vision of the organization to fastidiously provide the platform on which to unfailingly deliver accessible public legal information to the public so as to enlighten the society. Our sense of obligation is captured in our slogan “Where Legal Information is Public Knowledge”. We have come to an enlightened understanding of our mandate and make a commitment to not merely be a provider of public legal information but the people’s fountain of knowledge and understanding of the law for   the promotion of the rule of law and the advancement of a civilized society.

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Chief Justice Hon. David K. Maraga makes his remarks during the Official Launch of Kenya Law Strategic Plan

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to point out two (2) critical aspects that in my view stand out in the delivery of this Strategy that will be launched today.

First, is Kenya Law’s role to the citizenry who are the main consumers of our products in accelerating access to justice. In arriving at the strategic focus, the management with the guidance of the Council, considered its role from a citizen-centric approach anchored in Kenya Law’s ethos and core values of integrity, professionalism, transparency, accountability, innovation and creativity. In particular, Kenya Law considered itself duty-bound to support the realization of the National Values and Principles (Art 10) and the right of access to information guaranteed to the citizenry (Art 35). These constitutional considerations are what you will find in this Strategic Plan that will be unveiled to you today.

Secondly, is the emphasis placed on invigorating the use of appropriate ICT technologies to improve our efficiency and productivity to enable Kenya Law achieve competitive advantage not only in the region but globally. For this, we have planned the development of ICT systems for legal publishing that will witness a robust, efficient and real time reach to our consumers for the case law database and the Laws of Kenya. This is more so with the current rapid changes in technology, the emergence of newer media but most importantly the feedback we have received during customer satisfaction surveys and daily interactions with our stakeholders.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Strategic Plan guarantees accessibility of legal information to the public. This plan is therefore an embodiment of our collective promise to our stakeholders on the service delivery standards that they should expect from Kenya Law.

We commit in this Strategic Plan (2018-2022), to continuously improve our systems for generating and disseminating public legal information; review and develop appropriate policies, guidelines and legislation for achieving our mandates; enhance the capacity of Kenya Law, prudently manage human, infrastructural and ICT resources; and create an institutional brand that enhances the visibility of Kenya Law’s products and services.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It was interesting engaging with the stakeholder feedback of what they expected of Kenya Law. The feedback reaffirmed that Kenya Law’s mandate is more than ever relevant today with the growth of jurisprudence and changing legislative terrain. This Strategy for instance expands to report on County legislation courtesy of devolution. It has also emerged that the public expect case law (Judicial decisions) to be processed and disseminated in a more user-friendly way that takes account of the specialized areas of legal practice, including, decisions from tribunals and other judicial bodies. Kenya Law is up to the task and we are committed to ensuring that public legal information is freely accessible.

As we make these commitments, we cannot do this on our own. We will require your support to meet our obligations. From judicial officers who are required to transmit their judicial decisions in a timely manner to legislative bodies who are expected to produce and share legislation to other public sector agencies who should grant Kenya Law access to public legal information. All of these will lead to better knowledge of the law; predictability of the law and therefore better access to justice by all Kenyans.

We must remember that this country has reported on judicial decisions for 120 years, and that we need to ensure that we carry this mantel forward for the next 500 years and beyond. Today this responsibility falls on you and me and we must selfishly guard it. That is the heavy task that we have.

Our challenge (and we have the usual challenges that beset public sector agencies, but let me mention just one) remains in ensuring that we have the right staff compliment (numbers and professional competencies) to ensure that Kenya Law properly discharges its mandate. Even though, we have limited human resource capacity vis-à-vis the increasing public legal information that is being generated by the judiciary, legislatures and other public bodies, we are committed to meeting our mandate and creating a single, reliable repository of all of Kenya’s legal information.

The promises we are making in this Strategic Plan are indeed heavy commitments which will require resources both financial and non-financial. This is therefore a clarion call to the government and all development partners to assist us to reach these levels.

To the staff led by the Editor, I would like to thank you for your commitment in the achievement of Kenya Law’s mandate. I want to assure you today of our full support even as you discharge this heavy mandate. We know that we have various areas where we need to improve so that we can have an optimum output from our organization. The Council is aware of all of these issues and we are taking steps to ensure an increase in budgetary allocation; enhanced numbers within the workforce; improved work tools, just to mention a few.

To the Council members, I sincerely thank you all for being steadfast in guiding and nurturing Kenya Law into the success story it is today.

Thank you.

 The Hon. Justice D. K Maraga, EGH

Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya

Chair, Council for Law Reporting.

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