BOWMANS RESPONSE TO COURT CLOSURE IN KENYA AMID CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

By George Ndung'u Thursday, March 19, 2020
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As you may be aware, all litigation and dispute resolution proceedings have been impacted by COVID-19 closure. In a press statement read by the Chief Justice on 15 March 2020 he announced a scale down of court activities throughout the country from 16 March 2020 for a period of two weeks in order to allow further consultations and design appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

At Bowmans, as we continue to work and service all of our clients’ needs, we have taken steps to ensure that all our client’s matters are not affected and continue seamlessly. We already operate digitally in our use of an electronic diarizing system for all our client’s matters. In addition our litigation team members continue to remain fully available on email and phone to address and respond to any questions raised.

We have also taken the following actions:

  • We have virtual meeting and group conference call facilities available to connect with all our clients given the limitation of physical meetings whether at our offices or off site.
  • We are continuously liaising with the Judiciary and the Law Society of Kenya to ensure that all current practice directions as to filing and hearing of urgent matters are being adhered to.

Depending on the forum where the different cases are being heard, various directions have been issued by the different courts as follows:

Generally:

  • All appeals, hearings and mentions in Criminal and Civil cases in all courts are suspended.
  • One duty judge and one magistrate will be on duty at all times in the High Court and Magistrates Courts respectively.
  • Filing of pleadings is being allowed, with priority being given to urgent matters.
  • Urgent matters will only be heard on Thursdays.

High Court Commercial and Tax Division – Milimani:

  • New mention dates have been given for matters that were to have come up in court between 16 and 31 March 2020. These will be mentioned between 20 April and 6 May 2020.
  • The registry has rolled out an e-filing system that allows court users to file new cases, upload documents, pay the filing fees, have an auto generated case number and print electronic receipts.

Employment and Labour Relations Court:

  • Matters filed under urgency will be heard once a week on Thursday with effect from Thursday 19 March 2020 at 10:00 am.
  • New mention dates have been given for matters that were to have come up between 16 and 27 March 2020. These will be mentioned between 20 April and 3 July 2020.

Milimani Commercial Courts (Chief Magistrates Court):

  • The Registry will be open for filings between 9 a.m. and 1 pm.
  • E-filing at the registry is encouraged and directions have been issued to law firms.

Arbitration:

  • All arbitration matters will proceed without interruption.
  • Each arbitration will be governed by the arbitral tribunal’s directions and the rules applying to each.

Procurement Board matters:

  • These matters will proceed with limited representation.
  • Any hearing dates given by the Board will stand.

To know whether any of our Client’s matters have been affected, or for any please reach out to your contact person at Bowmans or your relationship partner for further information.

For more general information about Covid-19 and its effect on Kenyan businesses, see here.