The Chief Justice and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary have specific statutory roles in managing the affairs of advocates in Kenya, including processing applications for admission of advocates, issuance of advocates’ annual practising certificates, and appointment and annual renewal of Notaries Public. They also maintain the Roll of Advocates, the Roll of Commissioners for Oaths, the Roll of Notaries Public, and Advocates’ records. The Advocates Section, which is a unit within the Office of the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary manages these functions.
Before introducing the Judiciary Advocates Management System, the manual process of issuing Practising Certificates was slow and cumbersome. Advocates applying for Practising Certificates had to print out application documents and visit the Law Society of Kenya offices. The LSK processed and forwarded the documents to the Chief Registrar, who had to sign over 15,000 Practising Certificates by hand, leading to long waiting time for applicants. It could take up to ten months to process 10,000 Practising Certificates. Additionally, there were no real-time updates on the status of applications.
However, with the introduction of the digitized system, the process of issuing Practising Certificates has been transformed, making it faster and more convenient for advocates. Advocates can now apply for and receive their Certificates from the comfort of their homes or offices. The JAMS system offers a user-friendly interface for advocates to manage their applications and documents, providing real-time updates on the status of their applications. As of 1st March 2023, over 9,000 electronic Certificates had been issued through the system, marking a significant achievement compared to the previous year, when only 1,000 Certificates had been issued by the same period.
The advantages of the JAMS system are numerous. The system is integrated with the Law Society of Kenya’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), making the application process seamless for advocates. The JAMS system offers more security features on the Electronic Practising Certificates, preventing masquerading by persons not qualified to act as advocates and enhancing public trust. Additionally, the system provides a platform for verifying issued E-Practising Certificates, allowing members of the public to authenticate documents signed by notaries public and the status of advocates.
The Advocates Management System was developed by Judiciary’s ICT team in collaboration with the Law Society of Kenya. The collaboration with the LSK illustrates the significance of the justice sector working together to serve members of the public.
The Judiciary is committed to digital transformation. With the launch of the Judiciary Advocates Management System, new and practising advocates and by extension the clients they serve – who can now authenticate their advocates’ details online – have a reason to celebrate.
*The author is the Chief Registrar, Kenya Judiciary.