The Practice Directions on Electronic Case Management were gazetted on 24th March 2020 through Kenya Gazette Notice No. 2357 under the Civil Procedures Act.
The system, which was developed by the Judiciary Information Communication Technology (ICT) Directorate. The system was officially launched in July 2020 by the then Chief Justice David Maraga together with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The use of digital technology thus proved to be a crucial innovative solution to ensuring service delivery in the face of the corona virus pandemic.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country in the past year hastened efforts to incorporate the use of ICT in service delivery to Kenyans. This resulted in a more technologically driven system which is the new norm in service delivery today globally.
E-filing System provides a platform for Law firms, Lawyers and non – lawyers to initiate and complete the process of filing cases online from their offices or remotely.
Users do not need to visit the court premises to file cases or banking halls to pay court fees, the E-Filing allows the Court Users to submit Electronic documents to the courts, Perform Self-Assessment and make payments either court Fees, Cash-bail or Court Deposit.
Courts Users Can File New Matters and get new case numbers OR File additional Electronic documents to existing cases.
Electronic Service And Correspondence.
When the Case is filed and payment paid, the user submits the case for approval and verifications.
The purpose of this verification is to ensure that the Pleadings submitted are readable and accessible, Courts are paid in full and that there is no under-assessment during self-assessment and that documents were filed in the correct divisions.
When a case is approved, a correspondence is sent to the users with an attachment which can be either be Summons to Enter Appearance, Acknowledgement note and Notice of Taxation.
SMS and USSD Services
The Judiciary has setup an Interactive SMS Service which can either be accessed through a SHORTCODE and USSD query services.
For the SHORTCODE Service, users will send an SMS with a specific format including a Tracking Number and Option between 1 and 4 after the # sign to the SHORTCODE 22490. For example FDRS2140#1 sent to 22490.
On the Other Hand, USSD is an Interactive version of the query services. The User will dial *508# to access the Menu options.
Objectives of the E-filing Platform
They will not need to make physical presence and journeys to the court registry to file cases hence take less time in filing cases and resolve non filing and mis-filing of documents.
Convenience and Flexibility
Greater convenience and flexibility to the Law Firms filing documents at the convenience of the offices.
Resolve long turnaround time in retrieving required documents and resolve ever growing demand for physical space to store physical documents/files.
The judiciary intends to rollout the Judiciary Registry Queue and Customer Care System that will help citizens to seamlessly interact with the judiciary. It also has plans of establishing a data centre that is robust and resilient.
To ensure it accomplishes its objective of offering judicial services to citizens in an equitable and inclusive manner, there is need for significant investments in electricity and ICT infrastructure in the country to narrow the digital divide.
Moreover, it is imperative that better and modern information and communication technologies are availed not only at the courts but also at prisons to give defendants a fair chance when seeking justice. Safeguarding the e-filing system against cyber attacks and enhancing data protection will be critical in upholding the integrity of virtual courts.
What is your experience with e filing system? Is it a step towards making access to justice easier? Share your comments here.