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The Kenya Law Reform Commission of Kenya is a government Commission established to keep under review all the law of Kenya to ensure its systematic development and reform.
History of Kenya Law Reform Commission
KLRC was initially established in 1982 through the enactment of the Law Reform Commission Act (Chapter 3 of the laws of Kenya).The mandate of the Commission as set out in section 3 of the said Act is to “keep under review all the law of Kenya to ensure its systematic development and reform, including 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”.
The above mandate has since been expanded by the CoK2010 which under Clause 5(6) (b) of Sixth Schedule requires the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) to coordinate with the KLRC and the Attorney-General (AG) to prepare for tabling in Parliament legislation required to implement the CoK2010. The implication here is that, other than its statutory and on-going role of keeping under review all the law of Kenya, KLRC now has an onerous constitutional mandate of not only preparing all the new legislation required to give effect to the CoK2010 within specified timelines, but also to undertake a detailed audit of all the existing over 700 pieces of legislation and harmonize them with the CoK2010.
The KLRC now draws its current legal mandate from three primary instruments of governance which also inform its establishment, structure and operations. These instruments are the Law Reform Commission Act (Cap 3), the State Corporations Act (Cap 446) and the CoK2010. The mandate of KLRC as given by the instruments can therefore be categorized into statutory and constitutional mandates. The statutory mandate is spelt out in the law enacted by parliament that established KLRC and provides for its internal governance structure and the omnibus legislation governing the state corporation sector. Specifically, KLRC derives its statutory mandate from Law Reform Commission Act (Cap 3) and State Corporation Act (Cap 446).
Since inception, KLRC has continued to exist as the entity established under the Law Reform Commission Act (Chapter 3 of the laws of Kenya). Notably, the focus has been on keeping all Kenyan laws under review to ensure their systematic development and reform, including, in particular their integration, unification and codification. The reform involves the elimination of anomalies, the repeal of obsolete and unnecessary enactments and general simplification and modernization of the laws. The KLRC is therefore the primary Law Reform agency in Kenya and part of its mandate is to offer technical legal advice to government agencies on the review of laws for which they take responsibility. This puts into context KLRC’s traditional mandate.
From inception, KLRC has operated as a department within the office of the AG. However upon reorganization of government ministries and functions vide presidential circulars Nos. 1 of 2008, the law reform function and the KLRC were administratively moved to the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs (MoJNCCA). It is wholly funded by the Government but with regular support from development partners.
Since 2008 KLRC’s critical role in law reform has become central in the realization of the projected national development under KV2030. Given the implementation arrangements of the national vision, sharper focus on law reforms is provided for under the first medium term plan (MTP2008-2012). During the post 2007 election period, further emphasis was placed on reforming of laws as underpinned by the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, 2008. The new constitutional dispensation that set in upon promulgation of the CoK2010 placed the ultimate emphasis on law reform beginning with the express demand for construing of all laws existing immediately before its effective date. Specifically, the laws would be construed with alterations, qualifications and exceptions necessary to bring each into conformity with the CoK2010 (Article 262(7)). These mark and now put into context KLRC’s transitional mandate.
The CoK2010 as the core national policy and legal reform has underpinned Kenya’s governance and rule of law agenda. Its promulgation has brought on board a consensus based constitutional document that forms a strong basis for national renewal, stability and accelerated development that’s widely shared. Indeed the CoK2010 would then serve as the facilitator, enabler and defender of gains made across regimes intentions of which are to be mainstreamed into the various proposed legislation in its implementation. In this respect KLRC has a direct responsibility in coordinating with the CIC and the AG in the preparation and tabling in Parliament legislation required to implement the CoK2010(Article 262(6)(b). This puts into context KLRC’s constitutional mandate
The demand for KLRC to deliver on its above mandates compels it to formulate and vigorously pursue a new strategic direction aligned to the adopted government planning cycle of 2013-2017. In content, the strategic direction has been aligned to Medium Term Plan 2013-2017 (MTP2) which furthers the Kenya Vision 2030 (KV2030) aim to transform Kenya into a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life. Across the three pillars the need for legislation and law reform is emphasized in great detail.
Roles of Kenya Law Reform Commission
Notably, the role of the Kenya Law Reform Commission has been on Kenyan laws. KLRC focuses on keeping all Kenyan laws under review to ensure they develop and reform systematically. This includes, in particular, integrating, unifying, and codifying these laws.
The reform involves eliminating anomalies, repealing obsolete and unnecessary laws, and generally simplifying and modernizing the laws. Therefore, KLRC is the primary Law Reform agency in Kenya.
Moreover, part of its mandate is to offer technical legal advice to government agencies on the review of laws for which they take responsibility.
The commission’s roles include:
- Initiate or receive and consider any proposals for the reform of the law that may be made or referred to it;
- Co-ordinate with the Attorney-General in preparing, for tabling in Parliament, the legislation required to implement the Constitution;
- Formulate, by means of draft Bills or otherwise, any proposals for reform.
- Undertake the examination of particular branches of the law and formulate proposals for their reform;
- Prepare comprehensive programmes for the consolidation of the law;
- Draw the attention of the Minister to any proposal for reform if, in the opinion of the Commission, such proposal has or is likely to have an adverse effect on the country as a whole or on any community or section of the country in particular;
- Provide advice and information to national and county governments ministries, departments and agencies or any other person or authority with regard to the reform or amendment of a branch of the law appropriate to the ministry, department and agency or person or authority;
- Solicit for funds for participation by the public in the performance of the functions of the Commission;
- Encourage international co-operation in the performance of its functions;
- Encourage and promote public participation in the process of law-making and educate and sensitize the public on the content of the law through seminars, workshops, conferences and other public meetings; and
- keep under review all the law and recommend its reform to ensure—
- that the law conforms to the letter and spirit of the Constitution;
- that the law systematically develops in compliance with the values and principles enshrined in the Constitution;
- that the law is, among others, consistent, harmonized, just, simple, accessible, modern and cost-effective in the application;
- the respect for and observance of treaty obligations in relation to international instruments that constitute part of the law of Kenya by virtue of Article 2(5) and (6) of the Constitution;
- keep the public informed of the review or proposed reviews of any laws; and
- keep an updated data on all laws passed and reviewed by Parliament;
- work with the Attorney-General in preparing for tabling, in Parliament, the legislation and administrative procedures required to implement the Constitution;
- provide advice technical assistance and information to the national and county governments regarding the reform or amendment of a branch of the law;
- upon request or on its own motion, undertake research and comparative studies relating to law reform;
- formulate and implement programmes, plans, and actions for the effective reform of laws and administrative procedures at national and county government levels;
- consult and collaborate with State and non-State organs, departments, or agencies in the formulation of legislation to give effect to the social, economic, and political policies for the time being in force;
- formulate, by means of draft Bills or otherwise, any proposals for reform of national or county government legislation;
- upon request or on its own motion, advise the national or county governments on the review and reform of their legislation;
- undertake public education on matters relating to law reform; and
- perform such other functions as the Constitution, the Kenya Law Reform Commission Act, or any other written law may prescribe.
The Composition Of The Commission
The Commission should consist of―
- a chairperson appointed by the President through an open and competitive process;
- two members appointed by the Cabinet Secretary (responsible for matters relating to law reform) through an open and competitive process;
- one member, being an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, nominated by the Law Society of Kenya and appointed by the Attorney-General;
- one member, being an officer in the Office of the Attorney-General, appointed by the Attorney-General;
- a representative of the Attorney-General appointed in writing; and
- a representative of the Cabinet Secretary (responsible for matters relating to law reform) appointed in writing;
The representatives of the Attorney-General and the Cabinet Secretary are ex-officio members of the Commission.
For more about the role of the Kenya Law Reform Commission, see the Kenya Law Reform Commission Act(opens in a new tab) or visit their website at klrc.go.ke.
The current membership of the Commission is as follows:
-  ‘Official Site’
-  ‘Kenya Law Android Application’