During my attachment my host institution was

1.2 Type of organization.

The judiciary is a government owned institution which is endowed with the responsibility of administration of justice and the compilation and the dissemination of case law and other legal information for effective administration of justice.


1.3 Part of the organization where I was attached.

I was attached at Commercial and Admiralty Division of the Judiciary, Nairobi.


1.4 Name and position of host supervisor.

My host supervisors during my attachment were Mrs. J. Tanui-The Deputy Registrar of the division and Mr. Stephen Elly Otieno, Executive assistant, at the high court of Kenya, Nairobi.


1.5 Dates of training.

My attachment duration was from 25th  May 2015 to 14th August 2015.

At the library; 4th may to18th may

At the registry; 19th may to 4th august.

1.6 Name of faculty supervisor and dates of visit.

My faculty supervisor was Dr. perpetua Gacugu, who visited me once during the attachment.




During pre-colonial times, cases were administered by a council of elders known by different names among various native communities. With the establishment of colonial rule, court systems were introduced.

The justice system in Kenya owes its origin to the Beruri conference of 1885.The general Act that resulted from this and the Brussel’s conference imposed a duty on the signatory countries to establish a system of justice on their domain in Africa and underlined the importance of setting up judicial institutions.

The colonial government through several regulations and orders in council established various courts to cater for the dual system of justice, with one system for Europeans and the other for Africans.

These started with the East Africa order of council of 1887 and culminated in courts ordinance of 1931. The establishment of three classes of subordinate courts namely Resident magistrates, Provincial commissioners, District commissioner’s court.

Presently the court system in Kenya is made up of different types of courts which have been established according to the provisions of the constitution, the judicature Act (cap 8) the magistrate’s courts (cap 10) and the Kadhi’s court Act (cap11).

2.1.1 The high court, Nairobi

The establishment of the high court in Kenya dates back to the adoption of the East Africa order in council of 1887.This was the final court of Appeal for the East Africa protectorate, which later split creating the need for each member library to establish its own court system. The high court was initially located in Mombasa before being transferred to Nairobi and was originally known as Supreme Court. The high court of Kenya serves as the headquarter of the judiciary in the republic of Kenya. It houses Kenya court of appeal, the high court, Nairobi branch and the resident’s magistrate courts.

2.1.2 The High Court Library, Nairobi

The High Court Library is the oldest special library in Kenya. It was established along with the High Court (then known as the Supreme Court) in 1902 in Mombasa, the capital city of the protectorate at the time. The High Court Library was set up to meet the information and reference needs of the early judicial officers of the crown and advocates.

In 1905 the Supreme Court moved to Nairobi, which was now the seat of the colonial administration. The High court was also moved to the present Law Courts building, along with the Library. In 1930, the foundation stone of the present Law Courts building, along with the Library. In 1930, the foundation stone of the present Law Courts building was laid and on the 8th May, 1935 the doors of the High Court complex Nairobi, was opened to the public.

The High Court Library started with a collection of textbooks on particular branches of the law and was added to from time to time by gifts and by books purchased from the departmental vote. The earlier gifts that formed the first legal collections of the High Court Library were mainly volumes of ‘notable British trial’ cases. The Judges, Law Officers of the Crown, Resident Magistrates, and practicing Advocates supplied the volumes to start the nucleus of the library. The rate of growth over the years has been both constant and rapid.

The library at the Milimani is relatively new and has a stock of over 5,000 volumes which includes foreign Law Reports, Statutes, textbooks and statutes and legislation of the three East African countries and some ten periodicals. Also the library boosts of e-books that are as a result of subscription to international publishers that is Lexis nexis and Sweet and Maxwell.

The use of the library is controlled by a Library Committee headed by the Chief Justice or a Judge appointed by him. The members of the committee include the Registrar of the High Court or his representative, two Advocates nominated by the Council of Law Society of Kenya, and the librarian who is the secretary. The members of the library are mainly the Judges, Magistrates, State Counsels and the advocates of the high Court of Kenya who pay an annual subscription. The fees paid by the advocates give them access to all the Judicial Libraries in the Country.

The High Court Library as was noted earlier is a special library serving a specialized clientele. It offers such services as reference, lending, photocopying and literature searching. Loan services are, however, restricted to court use only, and books borrowed are not to be taken out of the court premises. The entire collection is on open access.

2.1.3 The high court commercial and admiralty registry.

The high court commercial and admiralty division is a section of the high court that deals with complex cases arising out of business disputes, both national and international. There is a great emphasis on;

  • International trade
  • Banking disputes
  • Commodity disputes
  • Arbitration disputes.

In the commercial and admiralty registry, several types of records are found;

Civil cases: lawsuit brought to address a private wrongs such as breach of contract, or negligence or to enforce civil remedies such as compensation damages, injunction. Also called  civil action, civil proceedings or civil suit. In the commercial registry there are different types of civil cases that include, high court civil cases (HCCC), Miscellaneous cases (MISC), Bankruptcy notes (BN), Bankruptcy causes (BC), Winding up causes (WC), and income Tax appeals (ITA).

  • High court civil case; civil cases involve conflicts between people or institutions such as businesses, typically over money.  A civil case usually begins when one person or business (the plaintiff) claims to have been harmed by the actions of another person or business (the defendant) and asks the court for relief by filing a complaint and starting a court case.  The plaintiff may ask the court to award damages (money to compensate the plaintiff for any harm suffered), or may ask for an injunction to prevent the defendant from doing something or to require the defendant to do something, or may seek a declaratory judgment in which the court determines the parties’ rights under a contract or statute.
  • Miscellaneous case; Miscellaneous case numbers are normally assigned to a variety of matters filed with the court which is not considered a civil case. They are ancillary and supplementary proceedings not defined as a civil action. If the miscellaneous case is contested before a judge, it then receives a civil case number. Miscellaneous cases could be directly or indirectly related to a case. Miscellaneous actions require resolution through the judicial system.
  • Bankruptcy note and Bankruptcy cause; a bankruptcy note is a legal and binding contract or agreement between two or more individuals to repay a debt according to specified conditions. In most cases, the bankruptcy note includes a time frame in which the debt or loan must be paid as well as agreed upon terms pertaining to the payoff. Some notes can include what is called an acceleration clause. This means the debt balance must be paid in its entirety if payments are not made regularly and on time as outlined in the original agreement.
  • Winding up cause; these are cases that involve the process of selling all the assets of a business, paying off creditors, distributing any remaining assets to the principals or parent company, and then dissolving the business. Winding up can refer to such a process either for a specific business line of a corporation or to the dissolution of a corporation itself.
  • Income Tax appeal;Taxcases dealsolelywithtaxdisputes,whichmayinvolvethevaluation of realproperty,theamount of taxthestate or federalrevenueagencyseeks to collect, or thetaxstatus of a pension plan or a charitable

Minutes: The minutes are compiled by the clerk of the court. The clerk briefly records all actions of the court on a single day. Minutes are particularly useful when indexes and dockets cannot be located; they usually list the plaintiff and defendant in the case and state the action taken. They are nor

mally organized chronologically but are rarely indexed.

Orders: The recorded orders of the court can be found in almost every jurisdiction. They generally present a concise summary of the case and state the judgment to be carried out. It is worth noting that appointments of guardians, memorials, naturalizations, and re-recordings of deeds, especially before this century, are often recorded in the order books. In addition, a variety of other administrative data from the locality was also recorded frequently.


The independent custodian of justice in Kenya.



To deliver justice fairly, impartially and expeditiously, promote equal access to justice, and advance local jurisprudence by upholding the rule of law.



  • Ensure that the judiciary staff and the paid advocates have access to necessary services of information.
  • Explain and promote information resources available through judiciary library services.
  • Respond promptly to requests for information.
  • Provide advice and assistance to judiciary staff and paid up advocates concerning the management and maintenance of library resources


The high court library has a staff compliment of sixteen (16) comprising of both professional and support staff. The professional staff is in job group K and above excluding secretarial staff who are in job group L and N.






































The high court of Kenya is a government owned organization.  It’s financed by the treasury through annual budgetary allocation. Other funds come from bilateral/multilateral sponsors/donors from developed countries through organizations such as UNDP, World Bank, International monetary Funds (IMF).  The Revenue collected from high court library is in form of membership fee, overdue fines and photocopying services.


In the high court library and the civil registry in Nairobi, the work activities are undertaken at different levels in the various sections. The Strategic business units included the following:

2.7.1 Library
  1. The processing and distribution unit

This is a unit within the library where all library technical services are carried out. Judicial libraries are centralized in that all the acquisition and processing of information materials is done at the headquarters. This means that books are purchased, accessioned, catalogued and classified. They are then sorted out as per station requirements, and then forwarded to the respective stations. Cataloguing is done using the 2nd edition o Anglo Cataloguing rules (AACR2) and 20th edition of the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme (DDC)

  1. Circulation desk

Commonly referred to as issue desk. It forms the link between the library users and the library it’s the front office where services are given to the patrons. It’s daily operations includes: Giving user advisory services, Processing lists of authorities, registration of members, enforcement of library rules, shelf arrangement, charging and discharging of books  and photocopying.

  1. Amendments unit

This unit is charged with the sole responsibility of amending and updating laws of Kenya in the library, judges/ magistrates chambers. This is a highly specialized service and crucial in a Law Library. It’s a service that ensures judgments and rulings are made based on up-to-date law. To keep track of all the amendments made, the unit maintains and updates a database which contains all the amendments. Updating is done by referring to the Kenya Gazettes, Acts of parliament and subsidiary legislation for any new changes.




2.7.2 Registry
  1. The counter

This is basically the front office of the registry. The customers are served here; the counter has two parts that is the main counter and the cashier’s till. Documents are received, here and litigants are advised on what action to take.

Activities that take place here include;

  • Assessment and collection of court fees deposits and fines.
  • stamping of documents
  • Payment and requests for file perusals.
  • Attending to enquiries put forth by advocates and litigants
  • Assisting litigants on information about cases and dates of cases.
  • Informing litigants of changes in case allocation
  • Service of summons at the counter.
  • Verifying documents before they are accepted for filing of case

  1. Main registry.

This is where all other registry operations take place. In the main registry it is where the real work takes place, a lot of activities take place here and some of the tasks I was assigned to include;

  • Documentation, storage and retrieval of files.
  • Processing of typed proceedings.
  • Preparation of cause lists.
  • Provide a link between the court and the litigants.
  • Processing of court orders and or decrees.
  • Keeping of court dairies and allocation of mention and hearing dates.
  • Receiving and stamping documents.
  • Issuance of copies court rulings/judgments and orders.
  • Issuance of summons.
  • Preparation of files in orderly manner and sequence.
  • Receiving affidavits and other court documents e.g. memo, court fees etc.
  • Maintaining file records in the registry.
  • Keeping safe custody of the court files.


During my entire period at Milimani law courts, I encountered several challenges in fulfilling my aims and objectives. I was able to succeed in every task I was assigned to because of several reasons;

  1. Firstly, the staff was very welcoming and interactive hence I was able to consult easily and ask questions whenever I encountered a difficulty.
  2. Secondly, I applied the knowledge I had learned in class especially during tasks that where practical. These included classification and cataloguing.
  3. Lastly I was successful because I had put a lot of effort in learning public relations. This enabled me to relate well with both clients in the registry and users of the library as well as my fellow staff.
  4. The availability of working tools in the processing and distribution unit such as classification schedules and cataloguing codes enabled me to successfully classify and catalogue library information materials

Throughout my period in my field of career I encountered several challenges that include;

  1. Some of the clients I dealt with were very arrogant, these applied in cases when I had to serve most of them at a go. Some of trhem were not patient to wait until their turn to serve them.
  2. Secondly, the registry is not well arranged especially files created at the period between 1990s and 2007. This made it hard to retrieve a file from those specific cabinets.
  3. There is need to automate the library operations in order to save time when searching for information materials.
  4. The budgetary allocation is inadequate and needs to be increased so as to be able to acquire more information materials.



In the library, my supervisor created a working schedule which I would follow everyday though it did not apply for the entire period I was attached.

At the registry many work was not scheduled because different and urgent tasks would come up every now and then.


3.2.1 Searching and retrieval

Both in the registry and the library, searching and retrieval is a daily activity. For instance, in the library litigants who are mostly lawyers come looking for reference materials. These materials include law books; previous cases same as those they are dealing with.

In the registry, searching and retrieval of files is common and tiresome work. Clerks and advocates request for files for several  reasons which include;

  • Perusal of court files
  • Fixing of hearing or mention dates
  • Filing of pleadings
  • Extracting orders and decrees
  • Acquiring of copies of files, proceedings, rulings or pleadings.
3.2.2 Accessioning.

    Accessioning is an activity that includes assigning of numbers to books which are specific for each book. This done to newly acquired materials or those received from other branches of the judiciary.

The reason for accessioning in the high court library is to keep a clean record for any material borrowed out of the library.

3.2.3 Classification

In the high court library, the collection is entirely in the class of law. This made it easy to undertake the classification task.  With the help of my supervisor utilized the Dewey decimal classification to classify the library collection. The only challenge was using the standard subdivisions and indexes to establish the specific subject matter.

3.2.4 Shelving

Shelving of information materials or books is done on a daily basis at the High Court Library. I did shelving of information materials once a day that is in the evening and I was guided by the shelf lists provided on each shelf. Shelving of information materials enabled me to process list of authorities as I was to retrieve the law reports, law statutes and law textbooks very easily.

3.2.5 Circulation

Circulation refers to charging and discharging of information materials to the users. There was also answering of reference questions from the library users concerning the use of the library in terms of accessing the information materials. The service was undertaken at the issue desk and this required a lot of interpersonal skills because one deals with different kinds of users who have different information needs that one needs to understand.

3.2.6 Processing of information

Doing this task I was at the dispatching office. This is a unit involved in transferring or sending of information materials to other library stations across the country. This is done by producing receipts and keeping the duplicate. Then filing of transfer documents.

3.2.7 Registration and assigning of case numbers.

At the registry any new case that needs to be filed is assigned a case number. For example, a civil case starts with the plaint which is filed by the applicant or plaintiff. It is then assessed to determine the type of caser i.e. HCC, MISC, BC, BN, WC or ITA.

A case number is assigned and referred to as a new case then later filed in its respective cabinet.

3.2.8 Assessment and stamping of court of documents

Any activity involving a court file except fixing of hearing and mention dates is charged. By these I mean perusal, filing of documents, extracting of orders and decrees. Any of these has its standard charges;

Perusal of a court file sh 50

Affidavit sh 75

Extraction of orders sh 150  etc


3.2.9 Filing of court documents and the files

Documents that are filed in a court file are referred to as pleadings and range from plaint, witness statements, affidavit of service, statements of defense, notice to show cause, notice of change of advocates etc.

Filing of files is in the storage cabinets in the main registry commonly referred to as “pigeon holes”. Every cabinet houses files of a certain year differentiating types of cases and a space for bulky files.

The pigeon holes are easily movable allowing for ease in retrieving and filing of court files.

3.2.10 Sorting of dismissed files for archival purposes

This is an activity that ran for a period of one month. This was during the activity initiated by the honorable chief justice. The activity was dubbed “justice @ last”, with the aim of clearing backlog of cases at the high court. The initiative was expected to address the oldest cases filed as from 1980s up to 2012.

Separating active files from concluded ones several considerations where followed;

  • Time elapsed since a case was last heard in court.
  • When the matter is withdrawn
  • When both parties had agreed on a settlement if suit has been taxed
  • Judgment or ruling delivered.



  • To achieve interpersonal skills
  • To utilize my theoretical knowledge and skills acquired in class into
  • To assist the organization in achieving its objectives.






For three months I was attached at Milimani law courts specifically in the library and the registry I learnt a lot that I could have never earned inside a classroom. For instance, I was able to apply my knowledge to the institution I was attached in mostly interacting with clients like judges, magistrates, advocates and clerks from various law firms.

Field attachment is an important practical training as I was able to link theory with practice for instance what I learned in units like searching and retrieval of information, classification, cataloguing, filing assessment etc.

During the time I was attached in the registry I was able to learn a lot of new things, such as the procedure of opening of files, filing of documents and files, assessment of documents.


In the library;

  • Internet access should be improved for users to access materials online and also enhance sharing of resources.
  • The high court library lacks an online catalogue. They should work on that for their users to access resources remotely.
  • The library staff lacks morale. In this case the library seems unlively and very boring, the management should work on restoring staff morale by use of promotions, trips etc.


In the registry;

  • The health of workers should be considered since the cabinets are very dusty.
  • The case of missing files, this is one of the main challenges faced by litigants. They request for a file yet it can’t be retrieved and questions arise of staff competence.
  • The organization should also carry out periodic appraisal of files to have them sorted accordingly.
  • More manpower should be acquired to man the Judiciary.