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|Mixed reactions over Maraga's plan to fight coronavirus by Kenyans247(m): Sat 21, March, 2020 09:06am|
The directive by Chief Justice David Maraga to scale down Judiciary's activities as the coronavirus rages has invited mixed reactions among lawyers.
The Judiciary suspended the hearing of all criminal and civil cases for two weeks. Whereas many in the legal sector support the action plan, others feel it was made hastily.
Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi said the sector will still operate smoothly.
"Adequate measures have been put in place to attend to matters that are urgent. Several courts, including the one in Kibera, already have a time table on how matters that will be affected will be dealt with through mentions three weeks from now, so it is in order," Mr Havi said.
However, lawyer Okweh Achiando said it was a sweeping directive, and that Mr Maraga should have instead controlled the number of attendants during hearings.
SMALL PRICE TO PAYMr Achiando said attendance should have been limited to litigants, witnesses who are to testify on a particular day, their lawyers and the judge or magistrate.
"Those not required on a particular day should have stayed at home. And these matters should have been heard in chambers and not in open court to keep away busybodies," he said.
Litigation lawyers are nevertheless going to lose because most earn their legal fees when they attend court.
While lawyer Stanley Kangali said it will lead to a backlog of cases, Mr Harun Ndubi said CJ Maraga's action, keeping in mind the overcrowding in most courts, is opportune in reducing the spread of the virus.
"Despite the effects of the directive, it is a small price to pay compared to being exposed to an infection we know has no treatment," lawyer Ndubi argued.
TAKE UP TECHNOLOGY
He suggested the setting up of an open portal through which litigants and their lawyers can communicate.
Lawyer Kariuki Karanja feels it is time the Judiciary embraced technology to ensure activities are not adversely affected during such situations.
"It speaks a lot about our preparedness in dealing with issues that will not require us to appear in court. We need to embrace technology. And do it urgently. The reality has come home -- courts need to receive documents via digital media and do the same when issuing rulings," Mr Karanja said.
He further argued that as a temporary measure, the CJ ought to have provided an e-filing option for those who have urgent applications.
Additionally, because businesses are experiencing a slowdown, most companies will not be able to meet certain financial obligations such as repaying loans.
As such, he suggested that the government should waive interest.
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