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Limits on the Jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court

The Small Claims court was created by the Small Claims Court Act, 2016 to reduce the backlog of case through creating an alternative avenue to litigate issues with a pecuniary jurisdiction not exceeding Ksh1,000,000. The jurisdiction of this court stems from Section 12 of the Small Claims Court Act, 2016 which provides that the court has the jurisdiction to determine civil claims involving:

  1. a contract for sale and supply of goods or services;
  2. a contract relating to money held and received;
  3. liability in tort in respect of loss or damage caused to any property or for the delivery or recovery of movable property;
  4. compensation for personal injuries; and
  5. set-off and counterclaim under any contract.

However, it must be noted that the Small Claims Court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain all matter even though damages sought is within its pecuniary jurisdiction. This was recently emphasized in the case of Lisa Kristine Christoffersen v. Kavneet Kaur Sehmi t/a The Random Shop (unreported) where the High Court of Kenya held that the Small Claims Court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain matters involving rent and rent arrears even if the compensation sought by a litigant is within the Ksh. 1,000,000 limit. To this effect and pending appeal, disputes involving rent and rent arrears remain commercial disputes within the preserve of the Magistrate’s Court and the High Court subject to pecuniary jurisdiction terms.

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