The High Court is created by Section 60 of the Constitution of Kenya.
- It has unlimited original jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters.
- It is the highest court of original jurisdiction in Kenya.
The High Court is also endowed with appellate jurisdiction.
- Appeals from various administrative bodies and subordinate courts are heard and determined by the High Court.
The High Court is the final arbiter in matters concerning the interpretation of the Constitution. This jurisdiction is conferred upon it by Section 67(1) of the Constitution.
- When any question as to the interpretation of the Constitution arises in proceedings in any subordinate court, that court shall, if any party to the proceedings so requests, refer the matter to the High Court for interpretation.
The High Court is further empowered by Section 44 of the Constitution to hear and determine election petitions.
- It is for the court to determine questions as to whether a person has been validly elected as a Member of Parliament.
- Moreover, the High Court has admiralty jurisdiction in all matters arising on the high seas or in territorial waters, or upon any lake or navigable inland waters in Kenya.
- This would relate to incidents such as boundary disputes between Kenya and another country with regard to territorial waters, Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone with regard to the coastline and any acts of piracy on the high seas.
Appointment of Judges.
The High Court comprises of the Chief Justice and not more than fifty puisne judges.
- A person may be appointed a judge of the High Court if he/she possesses the following qualifications:
He is or has been, a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from such a court.
- He is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya of not less than Seven Years standing.
A High Court judge vacates his office when he attains the age of 73 years.
- A judge may also be removed from office for inability to perform the functions of his office whether arising from physical or mental infirmity.
- Such removal may only be carried out by the President of the Republic if the question of his removal has been referred to a tribunal appointed for such purpose and the tribunal has recommended to the President that the Judge ought to be removed from his office for inability or misbehavior.