Various types of jurisdiction of the High court in Kenya

Describe the various types of jurisdiction of the High court in your country

Various types of jurisdiction of the High court in Kenya

  1.  Supervisory Jurisdiction

The High Court in exercising supervisory jurisdiction in any civil and criminal proceedings before subordinate courts and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as may consider appropriate for the purpose of ensuring that justice is duly administered by such courts. This includes the power of the High Court to transfer proceedings from one court to the other. To invoke the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court, a person must have exhausted all other available remedies and right of appeal. The High Court has supervisory jurisdiction over the subordinate courts and over any person, body or authority exercising a judicial or quasi-judicial function, but not over a superior court. For the purposes, of aforesaid supervisory jurisdiction, the High Court may call for the record of any proceedings before any subordinate court or person, body or authority referred, and may make any order or give any direction it considers appropriate to ensure the fair administration of justice.

  1. Interpretation of the constitution

Where any question as to the interpretation of the constitution arises in any proceedings in any subordinate court, and the court is of the opinion that the question involves a substantial question of law, the court may, and shall if any party to the proceedings so requests, refer the question to the High Court. The High Court shall be composed of an uneven number of judges, not being less than three when it determines the constitutional question referred to it. The decision of the High Court is binding on the Court that referred the question to the High Court and it must dispose of the case in accordance with the High Court’s decision.

  1. Admiralty Jurisdiction

Section 4 of the Judicature Act Cap 8 (1967) provides that the High Court will act as a court of admiralty and will decide “matters arising on the high seas or in territorial waters or upon any lake or other navigable inland waters in Kenya”. The law applicable to be exercised the conformity with international law and the comity of nations.

  1. Election jurisdiction

Under the Elections Act, the High court has special powers to hear and determine disputes arising from the national electoral process. The High Court may make an order as it deems fit, including the nullification of the election results upon hearing of a petition presented to it by a voter or loser in the election. For the High Court to nullify an election , the petitioner must prove that the election was not conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the Constitution or any relevant written law. There are various categories of election offences, including offences relating to voting, offences by members and staff of the IEBC, offences relating to the register of voters and voters’ cards, offences relating to multiple registration as a voter, offences relating to the use of technology in elections, offences relating to campaign expenditure, offences relating to unlawful use of public resources and breach of the Electoral Code of Conduct.


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