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Jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court in Kenya

The Small Claims Court Act establishes the Small Claims Court in Kenya as a subordinate court under Article 169(1)(d) of the Constitution.

According to Article 6(3) of the Constitution, the Chief Justice must designate any Court station as a Small Claims Court by publishing a notice in the Kenya Gazette with such geographical jurisdiction as may be determined.

Regardless of the preceding paragraph, a sub-county or other decentralisation units may form the basis of geographical jurisdiction following Article 6(3) of the Constitution.

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Structure of the Small Claims Court

An adjudicator shall preside over the Small Claims Court Court. An individual is eligible to serve as an adjudicator if they meet the following requirements–

  • is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya; and
  • has at least three years’ experience in the legal field.

According to Article 172(1) of the Constitution, the Judicial Service Commission shall appoint as many adjudicators, registrars, and other officers of Small Claims Courts as are required for the Court’s effective fulfilment of its powers.

Without prejudice to the preceding paragraph, the Chief Justice may appoint any judicial officer to serve as an Adjudicator in any proceedings under the Small Claims Court Act.

Any adjudicator or officer appointed shall serve for the terms provided in the instrument of appointment.

An adjudicator may serve on a part-time or full-time basis.

Jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court

The Chief Justice shall determine the local limits of the Small Claims Court’s jurisdiction and publish them in the Kenya Gazette.

When deciding the Court’s local jurisdiction, the Chief Justice must ensure that such Courts are accessible in each sub-county and, eventually, in other decentralised units of judicial service delivery.

Subject to the Small Claims Court Act, the Rules1 and any other law, the Small Claims Court Court has jurisdiction to determine any civil claim relating to–

  • a contract for sale and supply of goods or services;
  • a contract relating to money held and received;  
  • tort liability for loss or damage to property, as well as for the delivery or recovery of movable property;
  • compensation for personal injuries; and
  • set-off and counterclaim under any contract.  

The Small Claims Court may exercise any additional civil jurisdiction that any other written legislation may grant without impairing the generality of the previously mentioned jurisdiction provisions.

The financial jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court shall be limited to one million shillings. Nevertheless, the Chief Justice may determine any additional financial jurisdiction of the Court by notice in the Kenya Gazette without impairing this clause.

For more information about the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court in Kenya, see the Small Claims Court Act.

Read also about how to file a case with the Small Claims Court.

  1. Section 50 of the Small Claims Court Act. ↩︎