Describe the various types of jurisdiction of the High court in your country.

Various types of jurisdiction of the High court in your country

  1. Supervisory Jurisdiction

The High Court in exercising supervisory jurisdiction in any civil and criminal proceedings before subordinate courts and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as may consider appropriate for the purpose of ensuring that justice is duly administered by such courts. This includes the power of the High Court to transfer proceedings from one court to the other. To invoke the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court, a person must have exhausted all other available remedies and right of appeal. The High Court has supervisory jurisdiction over the subordinate courts and over any person, body or authority exercising a judicial or quasi-judicial function, but not over a superior court. For the purposes of aforesaid supervisory jurisdiction, the High Court may call for the record of any proceedings before any subordinate court or person, body or authority referred, and may make any order or give any direction it considers appropriate to ensure the fair administration of justice.

  1. Interpretation of the constitution

Where any question as to the interpretation of the constitution arises in any proceedings in any subordinate court, and the court is of the opinion that the question involves a substantial question of law, the court may, and shall if any party to the proceedings so requests, refer the question to the High Court. The High Court shall be composed of an uneven number of judges, not being less than three when it determines the constitutional question referred to it. The decision of the High Court is binding on the Court that referred the question to the High Court and it must dispose of the case in accordance with the High Court’s decision.

  1. Admiralty Jurisdiction

Section 4 of the Judicature Act Cap 8 (1967) provides that the High Court will act as a court of admiralty and will decide “matters arising on the high seas or in territorial waters or upon any lake or other navigable inland waters in Kenya”. The law applicable to be exercised the conformity with international law and the comity of nations.

  1. Election jurisdiction

Under the National Assembly and Presidential Election Act, the High court has special powers to hear and determine disputes arising from the national electoral process. The High Court may make an order as it deems fit, including the nullification of the election results upon hearing of a petition presented to it by a voter or loser in the election. For the High Court to nullify the election of a Member of Parliament, the petitioner must prove that an election offence has been committed. The composition of the High court is that one (1) Judge sits to determine dispute in parliamentary election while Three (3) Judges must sit if it is presidential election. Any appeal on the High Court decision on presidential election goes to the Court of Appeal where at least five (5) Judges will sit to determine the appeal. Disputes in the election of councillors go to subordinate courts.

  1. Succession/Probate Jurisdiction

The Probate Division of the High court has jurisdiction to hear any application and determine any dispute and pronounce such decree and issue such orders as my be expedient in inheritance matters for instance the High Court may issue probate i.e. a person has been validly appointed by a will to administer the property of the deceased.

  1. Matrimonial Cases

The court exercises jurisdiction in divorce matters. In exercise of its matrimonial jurisdiction, the High Court may issue orders for:-

  • Dissolution of marriage.
  • Nullity of marriage.
  • Separation and maintenance (alimony).
  • Custody, adoption and guardianship of infants
  • Spousal Property and financial adjustments


7. Other powers

  • To protect and enforce fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals which are set out in Chapter 5 of the Constitution also otherwise referred to as Bill of Rights.
  • To hear and determine bankruptcy proceedings
  • To supervise winding up of dissolved companies.
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