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KENYA LAW REFORM PROCESS. PRESENTATION. LAW REFORM. The Kenya Law Reform Commission was established on 21 May 1982 by the Law Reform Commission Act (Cap 3).

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law reform

The Kenya Law Reform Commission was established on 21 May 1982 by the Law Reform Commission Act (Cap 3).

The principle objective of the KLRC as contained in Section 3 of the Act is to:Keep under review all the law of Kenya to ensure its systematic development and reform

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  • This includes in particular the integration, unification and codification of the law, the elimination of anomalies, the repeal of obsolete and unnecessary enactments and generally its simplification and modernization.
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  • For this purpose the KLRC is expected to:(a) Receive and consider any proposals for the reform of the law that may be made or referred to it;
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  • (c) Undertake, pursuant to any programme approved by the Attorney-General, the examination of particular branches of the law and the formulation, by means of draft Bills or otherwise, of proposals for reform therein;
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  • Prepare, at the request of the Attorney-General, comprehensive programmes of consolidation to facilitate the exercise by him of his powers under the Revision of the Laws Act, and to undertake the drafting of Bills pursuant to any programme of consolidation approved by him;
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  • (e) Provide advice and information to ministries and departments in the Government with regard to the reform or amendment of a branch of the law appropriate to that ministry or department.
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Since its establishment over two decades ago, the Kenya Law Reform Commission has been unable to realize its full potential.

Consequently, it has not influenced the process and pace of law reform in Kenya to a marked degree.

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Contrary to the statutory requirement that the Commission advise departments and ministries with regard to amendments to any branch of the law relevant to them.

departments and ministries have routinely engaged consultants whenever they wish to reform their statutes. .

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  • Similarly, contrary to the legal requirement that the Commission examine particular branches of the law and formulate draft Bills and proposals for reform,
  • the Attorney General has commonly established task forces with a law reform mandate outside of the ambit of the Commission like the task force on children, sexual offences, education e.t.c
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  • These processes have culminated in a state of affairs in which the Commission has not been able to realize its potential as the premier institution in charge of law reform in the country.
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  • In this respect the Commission compares unfavorably with other law reform Commissions in the Commonwealth.
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  • However the Government is determined to bring the KLRC into the mainstream of law reform action and facilitate it to be able to achieve its mandate. A new bill is about to be tabled in parliament granting it absolute autonomy .
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  • The legislative power of the Republic is vested in the parliament of Kenya, which consists of His Excellency the President and the National Assembly.
This power is exercisable by bills passed by the National Assembly. It is the formulation of law, which gives parliament its distinctive complexion as the legislature.
Public bills originate in different ways.
  • Broadly, routine machinery legislation stems from the recommendations made by the government Ministries,
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  • while policy bills (such as those to give effect to rates of taxation and of pensions) flow from promises made by a Government in the election campaign and from the consideration by members at party meetings and in parliament.
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  • Private bills are generated by some particular person, associated or corporate body.
The fundamental stages before a bill becomes law are in progressive order:
  • 1.) Presentation and First Reading
  • 2.) Second Reading
  • 3.) Committee Stage
  • 4.) Third Reading
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  • When a Ministry feels that there is a need for legislation concerned he prepares a non-legal draft crystallizing the problems, which the new measure seeks to solve, or the objectives it must achieve. Worthy of note is that the aforementioned office does not originate legislative policy; it gives is expression to the A.G
  • Before asking the Attorney General’s office to proceed with the drafting of a bill, the Ministry is bound to submit a memorandum to the cabinet seeking Cabinet approval and outlining the purposes of the proposal.
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  • Presentation and First Reading
  • Every law begins as a bill which has to be read three times in the National Assembly and to receive the President’s Assent
Second Reading
  • The second reading is acknowledged as the most important stage of a bill, for here is that the principles of the bill are affirmed or rejected. This is the time not only for criticism or approval of what is contained in the bill, but also for suggestions of what could with advantage be put into it at a later stage.
The purpose of the Committee stage is the scrutiny of the bill in detail, and its amendments where it is considered by the majority to be necessary. The order of the scrutiny of the order of the various parts of the bill is as follows:
  • (a) Clauses as printed, excluding the clause providing for the citation of the bill;
  • (b) New clauses;
  • (c) Schedules;
  • (d) New schedules;
  • (e) Preambles, if any;
  • (f) Title;
  • (g) The clause providing for the citation of the Bill.
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  • At the conclusion of the proceedings in committee on a bill, or if more than one, all bills, the member responsible moves that the bill (as amended) be reported to the house,
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  • The third reading of a bill is taken as a rule, immediately after the report stage has been concluded
  • However, the scope of the debate on the third reading of a bill – now in its final report – is now restricted and may not go beyond what is really contained in the bill as it ultimately emerged in the committee stage.
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  • Private bills go through the same legislative processes as due public bills, with this difference.
  • As in the case of a public bill, a private bill comes into force on the day it is published in the Gazette following the President’s Assent unless some other day, or mode of coming into force is specified in the bill.
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  • if it is an opposed bill and it reaches committee stage it there goes through a different process from that of an ordinary bill, for in committee the promoters and opponents are heard and cross examined.
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  • Unlike public bill which is based primarily on considerations of public policy a private bill is principally founded on allegations of fact and on agreeing to its second reading, accepts and affirms these considerations.
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