Role of Political Parties Disputes Tribunal

Section 39 of the Political Parties Act establishes and stipulates the role of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal in Kenya. The Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body.

A quasi-judicial body is a non-judicial body with the power to interpret the law, for example, an arbitrator or a tribunal with powers and procedures similar to those of a judge or a court of law.

members of Political Parties Dispute Tribunal

The Judicial Service Commission appoints the members of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal. The members of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal in Kenya are-

  • a Chairperson who should be a person qualified to be appointed a judge of the High Court; and
  • six other members-
    • three of whom should be Advocates of the High Court of seven years standing; and
    • three other professionals with outstanding governance, administrative, social, political, economic and other records.

The Chairperson and members of the Tribunal should serve on a part-time basis.

The Chairperson and the members should hold office for a non-renewable term of six years.

A person should not be qualified to be appointed as a member of the Tribunal if that person is a member of the public service or takes an active part in the activities of a political party.

A person should not qualify for appointment unless the person has met the requirement of Chapter Six of the Constitution (on leadership and integrity).

The quorum of the Tribunal should be three members one of whom should be an advocate.

Role of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal

The jurisdiction and role of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal should be to determine—

  • disputes between the members of a political party;
  • disputes between a member of a political party and a political party;
  • disputes between political parties;
  • disputes between an independent candidate and a political party;
  • disputes between coalition partners;
  • appeals from decisions of the Registrar of Political Parties under the Political Parties Act;
  • disputes arising out of party primaries.

The Political Parties Disputes Tribunal should not hear or determine a dispute under roles 1, 2, 3 and 5 in the list above unless the dispute has been heard and determined by the internal political party dispute resolution mechanisms.

Determination of disputes

The Political Parties Disputes Tribunal should determine any dispute before it expeditiously, but in any case, should determine a dispute within a period of three months from the date the dispute is lodged.

Any appeal of the decision of the Tribunal to the High Court should be based on points of law and facts and on points of law if made to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

A decision of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal should be enforced in the same manner as a decision of a Magistrates Court.

The Chief Justice may, in consultation with the Tribunal, prescribe regulations for determination of disputes.

The Tribunal should apply the rules of evidence and procedure under the Evidence Act and the Civil Procedure Act, with the necessary modifications, while ensuring that its proceedings do not give undue regard to procedural technicalities.

Removal of member of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal

The Judicial Service Commission may remove a member of the Tribunal if the member—

  • becomes an undischarged bankrupt;
  • is convicted of a criminal offence;
  • is incapacitated by reason of prolonged physical or mental illness from performing the duties of the office;
  • violates the Constitution; or
  • is otherwise unable or unfit to discharge the functions of the office.

The staff of the Tribunal

The Judicial Service Commission should appoint the Secretary and such other staff of the Tribunal necessary for the proper functioning of the Tribunal.

Expenses of the Tribunal

The remuneration of the staff of the Tribunal and the expenses of the Tribunal should be paid out of monies allocated by the National Assembly to the Judiciary Fund.

The Chairperson and members of the Tribunal should be paid such allowances and be reimbursed such expenses as should be determined by the Judicial Service Commission on the recommendation of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

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