THE HON. LADY JUSTICE MARTHA KOOME
Judge of the Court of Appeal
THE HON. LADY JUSTICE MARTHA KOOME
Judge of the Court of Appeal
2009-2011: LL.M (Public International Law) University of London
1986-1988: Diploma in Legal Studies, Kenya School of Law
1983-1986: LLB University of Nairobi
September 2011 Appointed Head of Division, Land and Environment Division of the High Court of Kenya
October 2010- to date Resident Judge Kitale
May 2009 – Sep 2010 Judge Milimani Commercial Court
Jan 2006 – April 2009 Resident Judge, Nakuru Law Courts
May 2003 – Jan 2006 Judge of the High Court of Kenya based at the Family Division of the High Court
Jan 1993 – May 2003 Martha Koome & Company Advocates
Jan1988- Dec 1992 Mathenge and Muchemi Advocates
Lady Justice Koome has a strong background and vast experience both as a legal practitioner and as a Judge of the High Court. She began her legal career in legal practice and succeeded in running one of the most successful women law firms with a clientele that included Public Sector Companies, Non Government Organizations, Insurance firms and Commercial Banks. In private practice, Justice Koome also distinguished herself as a defender of Human Rights concentrating specifically on Gender Rights. She also represented political detainees and persons charged with politically instigated offences. She successfully represented women in precedent setting cases all the way to the Court of Appeal particularly in family law and was one of the leading lawyers in this area. Her firm understanding of issues of gender equality and human rights has seen her represent Kenya in several National, Regional and International forums, as a Kenya Government delegate or as Civil Society Representative. As the Chair Person of the federation of Kenya Women Lawyers (FIDA KENYA), Justice Koome was instrumental in determining the Organization’s strategic direction and the Association was recognized as a leading Women’s Rights Advocates.
Judge Koome also has experience in legal drafting as she participated in the drafting of the Children’s Act 2001, The Equality Bill, Family Protection and domestic Violence Bill, and the Gender Commission Act among others. Judge Koome has served in the Council of Law Society and she became the first Treasurer and Founder of the East Africa Law Society. Between 2005 – 2010.She was also elected by the African Heads of State Summit Held in May 2005 at Sirte Libya to serve in the African Union Committee on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC). Judge Koome was also invited as a representative of the Civil Society in 2000 – 2003 as a member of Sector Wide Legal Reform Sector Committee that developed the Blue Print Strategic plan for all the Reforms within the Institutions involved in the Administration of Justice. This programme later became the Governance Justice Legal Order Sector Reform Program (GJLOS-RP)
In the legal profession, she has also gained a reputation as a committed and hard worker and this is displayed in the number of cases completed every year .She also has one of the highest number of cases reported as Judgment of the Week complied by the National Law Reporting for 2010. Justice Koome is well grounded in all areas of the law, this is demonstrated by many precedent setting decisions she has rendered in Constitutional Law, Land rights, Children matters and indeed during her short stint at the Milimani Commercial Court, she determined very many cases in Bankruptcy, Tax, Copyright, and other Commercial Matters.
Justice Koome has displayed excellent administration and managerial skills as the Resident Judge for the stations she has managed. As Resident Judge she has instituted a system of working to improve procedures for fair and speedy administration of justice. This has included the implementation of court user committees that have had a great impact on ensuring there is dialogue between different stakeholders in the criminal justice chain link. She has also shared key simple procedures that can fasten the administration of justice including dictation of judgments that is a seemingly less tiresome way of preparing judgments and this system has been taken on by several other judges. In Nakuru she also provided oversight in the construction of the children’s court and also oversight on maintenance of the courts including cleanliness.
Justice Koome has also been instrumental in training of Judges and Magistrates and was appointed by the Chief Justice to train newly employed Magistrates. She has been part of a Task Force of Kenya Women Judges that developed a training manual on Gender. In all the stations she has encouraged team work and every year hosts a Christmas party where the staff Members have all commended her as the first Resident Judge to host parties where the staff interact with all their colleagues.
Justice Koome is internationally renowned as a leading expert in the implementation of justice for the protection of children and has been invited to several conferences to discuss her experience including Israel as a Key Note speaker at a conference organized by the Israeli government. She has also been recently called upon to attend an international round table meeting of Judges hosted by the International Women Judges in Washington DC – 30th March to 1st April 2009.
Justice Koome has a strong background of pursuing matters of social justice and protection of the rights of all individuals and this is shown in the numerous boards that she has participated in Pro Bono including Kenya Women Finance Trust, Law Society of Kenya, ANPCAN,FIDA and a cause that is close to her heart the protection of children sees her work very closely with Imani Children’s home. In gratititude to her never ending support, Justice Koome has several children named after her that she supports financially and through social visits.
Resident Judge Kitale Law Courts
Justice Koome was recently posted to Kitale High Court and her jurisdiction extends to the three counties of Trans Nzoia, West Pokot and Turkana. Prior to her posting, the High Court Station was grounded by a Lawyers Boycott for almost one year. Due to the Judge’s excellent communication skills, coupled with professionalism, she was able to mediate and restore the volatile situation. The Station is now on course, the Judge has reorganized work and within six months she has systematically cleared the endemic backlog of cases. One key achievement during her brief time at Kitale Law Courts has been the ability to clear a backlog of over 60 murder cases during a period of 21 weeks.
She has also successfully instituted a functional Bar and Bench Committee that meets regularly and has established Court Users Committees(CUC) in all areas. Most notably is Kakuma which is now spearheading the construction of a Court House at Kakuma Refugee Camp. The project is dubbed “bringing Justice to the refugees and the host community” is spearheaded by Justice Koome who has ensured that the local community also have access to social and economic rights. The CUC that comprises donor Agencies and all the actors in the administration of justice, have incorporated fundamental rights of the Host Community in all their programmes. This is in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 that enjoins public officers to be guided by National Values in the discharge of their duties. The organizational skills of Justice Koome have been commended by the UNHCR, the lead Agency that has undertaken to partner with the Judiciary in the construction of a court. The other Agencies are also following the example and they are addressing the plight of the local Community especially the right to shelter.
In Kitale Justice Koome has also held several training sessions with Magistrates and Lawyers from Kitale on the New Civil Procedure Rules.
Judge Milimani Commercial Court
While at Milimani Commercial Court, Justice Koome distinguished herself for delivering a very high turnover of cases. She determined very many precedent setting cases in Bankruptcy, Tax, Copyright, and other Commercial Matters. Every Friday over the years the cause list of Justice Koome has featured a long list of judgments and rulings which over the years were always delivered timely. Very few of her decisions have been upset by the Court of Appeal, an indication that her decisions are well grounded, researched and reasoned. For example in the year 2010, it is on record that she had the highest number of her cases reported as the judgment of the week by the National Council for Law Reporting.
Resident Judge Nakuru Law Courts
Justice Koome’s tenure as Resident Judge in Nakuru was most remarkable, her Court’s jurisdiction extended over the entire South Rift including Kericho High Court Sub Registry, the Magistrate’s Courts in Kericho, Naivasha, Nyahururu, Malalal, Molo, Kilgoris, Narok, Sotik and Bomet. Her work included the determination of criminal, civil and family matters as well as the administration of the courts in the entire area. The Judge organized and set up a very efficient CUC which has now become a model best practice and is being emulated by other Court Stations. This is a forum designed for Stakeholders to make contributions on how best the Judiciary can be more efficient and accessible especially to the vulnerable members of the public. Judge Koome worked very well with all the stake holders and was instrumental in strengthening the Child Protection Network and the pro bono legal Aid for children by the Nakuru Advocates. As team leader, Judge Koome liaised with other Judges, Magistrates and paralegal staff, and they were able to address all matters of efficiency collectively and managed not only to clear the endemic backlog of cases but also to systematically address other infrastructural needs of the Station. During her time at Nakuru, there was renovation and construction of Court Houses in Naivasha, Narok, Nyahururu and Sotik that she provided oversight.
Judge Family Division
While working in the Family Division of the High Court, Justice Koome developed simplified procedures by way of providing checklist and a bench book on the simplified procedures in Family law. She handled all family disputes which included matters of children, succession and family law. While serving in this Division, she pronounced several precedent setting decisions in succession law and landmark cases in the protection of Children’s Rights.
Martha Koome & Advocates
As the sole proprietor of the firm, Justice Koome built a Law Firm with a portfolio of impressive clients in a wide range of sectors including commercial banks and insurance firms. Justice Koome was responsible for the law firm’s resentation of clients and managing of the firm’s fifteen employees including four professionals. Judge Koome was successful in negotiating lucrative legal contracts and was successful in representing her clients in a diverse range of areas including commercial disputes, civil cases and public interest cases. The firm gained a reputation as one of the leading firms in representation of matrimonial and family law cases. Judge Koome’s commitment to the community service can be attested by the number of clients her firm offered pro-bono legal services, especially to the economically disadvantaged victims of human rights abuses specifically women and children
OTHER REASPONSIBILITIES /PRO BONO WORK
African Union Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACWRC)
Between; 2005 – 2010 Justice Koome was appointed by the African Heads of States Summit held at Sirte Libya in May 2005 as a Member of the ACRWC. The mandate of the Committee is to oversee the implementation of the Charter by the State Parties. During her term, the Committee developed its own rules of procedures that ensured all the African States became party to the Charter, domesticated it and made regular reports to the Committee on how each State is protecting the welfare of children
ANPPCAN – Chair of the Board
Between; 2004 – 2008 Justice Koome provided leadership to the Kenyan Chapter of the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPCAN). The Centre facilitates the promotion, defence and advocacy for Children’s Rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on Rights of the child. The African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child, the children Act and the Sexual offences Act.
Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers - Chairperson
Between; 1997 – 2002 Justice Koome was twice elected as Chairperson of FIDA - KENYA which is a non governmental organization in Kenya that focuses on advocacy especially the human rights of women and provides free legal services for women that can not afford access to these services. During Judge Koome’s term as chair, she was instrumental in the organization’s reputation as one of the leading human rights organization and leading it in the struggle for the promotion of Human Rights. The plight of women and children were taken into account as demonstrated by key legislations especially the Constitution of Kenya 2010. As chair Justice Koome represented the organization and made presentations at several National, Regional and International forums. Judge was also invited as part of the Kenya Government delegation and between 1997 – 2003; she attended the United Nation’s meetings by the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee on Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW).
Member Council of Law Society and Others
Between 1993 – 1996, Justice Koome served as Council Member of the Law Society of Kenya. She became a founder member of the East Africa Law Society (EALS) and the inaugural treasurer. The EALS, is modeled around the East African Community and it is spearheading the community integration especially the cross border practice by Advocates and the harmonization of laws and procedures. Justice Koome has also served in other capacities as the Secretary of Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT), a leading micro finance organization that grants loans to women in Business. She was a founder Member of the League of Women Voters that advocates for participation and inclusion of women in all positions of leadership.
Kenya Women Judges Association, Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association, The Commonwealth Judges and Magistrates Association, Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers, East Africa Law Society (First Treasure) Kenya Women Finance Trust(Secretary 1992-6) Law Society of Kenya (Council member 1993-5) League of Kenya Women Voters and The Institute of Certified Public Secretaries.
RELEVANT TRAINING AND COURSES ATTENDED
November 2007- Justice Koome was invited by the Government of Israel as Key Note speaker at an International Conference on Women and Sustainable Development. She presented a paper on women’s property rights; a Kenyan perspective.
2010: Fida Kenya Award for exemplary Leadership
2007: Grace Githu Award for democracy and defence of the rule of law
2004: Chamber of Justice