Kenya Law: How Does Kenya's Legal System Work?

How does the Kenya law system work? The Kenyan legal system consists of a mix of Kenya statutory (written) law and Kenyan and English common law, mixed with elements of tribal and Islamic law.

Kenya's basic legal system and body of law is very similar to that found in western or European countries. This is mainly a result of Kenya being a part of the British empire for many decades until 1963; Kenya is still a member of the British Commonwealth.

Kenyan chief justice, Evan Gicheru

The Kenyan Legislature

With a system similar to the United States and Great Britain, laws in Kenya are written and passed by their legislature, called the National Assembly. There are 224 seats in the Assembly, with 210 of them as elected representatives from all of Kenya's constituencies. The remaining 14 seats are directly appointed by the president himself.

The Judiciary

The judiciary is the body of judges and courts where the laws are upheld, and those breaking the laws are prosecuted. There are 8 sections of the judiciary, each with courts to handle different types of law. The courts cover civil, criminal, family, commercial, constitutional/judicial review, anti-corruption, city/municipal and children's laws.

The highest level of authority within the judiciary is the Court of Appeals, which hears cases only after they have already been through the High Court. Most average civil or criminal cases are tried through the lower Magistrate courts.

Overall, the judiciary is separate and independent from both the executive and legislative branches of the government. Influence from either body still exists, and the judiciary has not been free of corruption accusations along with the rest of the government.

Suspects in a Kenyan court


The Law Society of Kenya

The Law Society of Kenya is the nation’s bar association, that regulates and serves Kenya's lawyers. There are more than 6,000 lawyers and advocates in Kenya, who are all members of the LSK. You must be a member in order to practice law. Besides being the regulatory body for lawyers, the Law Society also runs a Continuing Legal Education program, to help keep members informed of the ongoing changes and developments in the Kenyan legal field.

Kenya Law Reports

The Kenya Law Reports are published by the National Council for Law Reporting, and contains all the judgments, rulings and legal outcomes for the superior courts. As well as reporting on judicial results, they also publish monthly and weekly commentaries on legal issues with regard to the court judgments.

Related Pages:

Crime in Kenya: An Introduction
What's the Kenya Police Like?
Understanding the Kenya Government
The Kenya Human Rights Situation
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