On April 27, 2021 the Ag. Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu gazetted the Small Claims Court, which means that it is easier than ever to sue someone. There are two major advantages of using the Small Claims Court. The first is cost. Filing fees in this court start from as little as KES.200 and will rarely exceed KES.1,000. The second advantage is time. Once the claim has been properly filed, it can take as little as 60 days to receive judgement.
The Small Claims Court will replace the need to go to the police to follow up small debts, and will also ensure faster justice for simple straightforward matters.
The Small Claims Court handles matters where the claim is less than KES.1,000,000. They are empowered to listen to five types of claims:
- contracts for sale of goods and services,
- contracts relating to money held and received,
- liability in tort for loss or damage to property,
- compensation for personal injuries and
- set-off and counterclaim under contract.
It is also possible to transfer an existing case from the Chief Magistrate’s court to the Small Claims Court. The High Court has powers to transfer a case from one lower court to another upon an application by the parties to the case to facilitate justice. The High Court will hear and determine the application on whether to transfer the case to the Small Claims Court, and will consider if it meets the conditions described above.
If however, one wishes to start a new suit at the Small Claims Court it begins with filing a Statement of Claim. The cost for filing the Statement of Claim starts from KES.200. The Statement of Claim should contain the name and address of the claimant and respondent, nature of the claim, the amount sought, the orders and relief sought and other particulars to support the claim such as how the amount sought was calculated and proved by evidence if necessary
The respondent will be served by the registrar of the court a copy of the statement of claim and required to respond within 15 days. Failure by the respondent to respond within the stipulated time could result in the court making a default judgment for the claimant either on its own motion or by application by the claimant. In addition, a failure by the respondent to appear at the hearing could result in a default judgment. However, this can only be done where there is proof that the respondent was served with the claim as well as the hearing notice.
Once the pleadings have been filed, the court is to hear the matter and issue judgment with 60 days.
Do you have a legal matter relating to a commercial claim of under KES.1 million in Kenya? Contact our experts for assistance or call 0708 111 222.