Transforming the Courts: Judicial Sector Reforms in Kenya, 2011-2015


When Willy Mutunga became Kenya’s chief justice in 2011, he made reductions in judicial delay and corruption top priorities. Drawing on previous plans to fix the same issues, Mutunga and his team developed a far-reaching reform program: the Judiciary Transformation Framework. Their goals included addressing administrative problems that had hindered citizens’ access to justice and opening up a historically closed institution to public engagement. Judges, magistrates, and court staff helped court registrars standardize and speed up administrative processes. Early efforts to introduce new technologies that would reduce delays—one of Kenya’s 2012–14 Open Government Partnership commitments—failed to achieve nationwide implementation. But the newly created Performance Management Directorate developed a case-tracking system that facilitated nationwide monitoring of delays and workloads. The newly established Office of the Judiciary Ombudsperson and strengthened Court Users’ Committees opened lines of communication for citizens to register complaints, suggest changes, and receive responses. Although many reforms were in early stages in 2015, Mutunga and his team developed and enacted policies that changed the ways the judiciary served the Kenyan public.

Maya Gainer drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Nairobi, Kenya, in September and October 2015. Case published November 2015.

process streamlining
Standard Operating Procedures
citizen complaints mechanism
institutional culture reform
building public credibility
Focus Area(s)
Civil Service
Critical Tasks
Building citizen support
Computerization of records
Performance management system
Priority setting
Core Challenge
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Maya Gainer